Last Thursday (March 8, 2012) Occupy Dame Street, Dublin, was removed at 3.30 a.m. by the Guarda Síochána in an operation involving more than 100 people so that the plaza that they had occupied outside the central bank could be cleared for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The de-occupation mimicked the late-night move made by police on Wall Street last November, but was met with far less public outcry despite the overkill of 100+ police removing approximately 15 protestors.
The towns of Buda and Pest were amalgamated into one city in 1873. The monumental castle of Buda became the focal point for the new city; it sits enormous on the west bank of the Danube. It is the latest in a long line of castles to be raised and razed in this spot, the current castle is a Frankenstein’s monster consisting of parts of the 18th Century upgrade and reconstructed areas of the medieval castle amongst others after the castle was heavily damaged in World War II.
In 2010 James Elkins, Art Critic and Historian of the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, wrote a piece entitled How Long Does it Take To Look at a Painting? for The Huffington Post. In this piece the author describes an encounter with an elderly lady who he estimates, over decades of visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, spent at least 3,000 hours looking at Rembrandt’s painting Young Woman at an Open Half-Door (below).
The basic premise of the Daily Mail’s piece was to prove via observation that viewers spend an average of as little as 5 seconds looking at works by important contemporary artists such as Rachel Whiteread or Tracy Emin in the TATE Modern. Their conclusion was that viewers do not like looking at modern art.
On a very recent trip to the north of Ireland from my home south of the border, I was asked by a friend and fellow traveller if I had encountered any culture shock after crossing into Northern Ireland. She had never visited up north before, being from further south in the country. The thought had never struck me.
When I was growing up Northern Ireland was the place that scandalised the headlines constantly with news of the bombings and beatings and various atrocities of the ongoing war in that area, and also where my parents would go to shop cheap. As a young child the troubles were an ambiguous thing at the very least, and the mention of towns I knew quite well like Omagh and Enniskillen were just mentions of places where awful things happened, but they never seemed that bad. The money was Pound Sterling, not the good old Irish Punt, the post-boxes and phone-boxes were red, not green. Continue reading “Red Phone-boxes: Ireland North and South”