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Event: The Secret Space – Palimpsest


ANU Productions in partnership with the National Archives

Using records of the National Archives, The Secret Space: Palimpsest is a new art installation that reflects on the relationship between individual idealism and the practical establishment of a new state.

The exhibition builds on an earlier installation and performance work entitled, The Secret Space (2021) in which ANU’s co-artistic director Owen Boss and performer Genevieve Hulme-Beaman examined the role their respective great grandfathers (P.T. Daly and Batt O’Connor) played in the Irish revolution.

Bartholomew (Batt) O’Connor was a master stonemason and builder, and a member of the IRB and the Irish Volunteers. During the War of Independence, he constructed hiding places across Dublin for documents, funds and secret rooms for people on the run from the authorities.

Patrick Thomas Daly was a Dublin Corporation Councillor, a founding member of Sinn Fein, the ITGWU, The Irish Citizen Army, The Irish Labour Party, and a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB. His private papers were destroyed in the 1970s leaving a significant absence in the revolutionary record.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Irish Free State undertook a campaign of modernisation, embracing cutting-edge architectural design and construction technologies, as the country embarked upon the world stage as a newly independent nation.

The Secret Space: Palimpsest features many examples of modernist architecture but focuses on two examples in particular: Ardnacrusha Power Plant (1929) and the Irish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair (1939), which were designed to promote a modern image of Ireland at home and abroad.

The Secret Space: Palimpsest weaves a complex and questioning narrative around ideas of revolution and utopia in the Irish context. It highlights the value of record keeping, the tragedy of lost histories and the role of the artist in addressing absences and gaps in the archive and our collective memory.

Exhibition dates:

18 May to 30 June 2023

10 am -5pm Monday to Friday

An associated panel discussion ‘And They All Lived Happily Ever After! Utopia Construction across Archive, Architecture and Art’ will respond to ‘The Secret Space: Palimpest’ installation and will take place in our Reading Room on Tuesday 23 May at 6pm. Free tickets to the panel discussion can be booked at ‘And They All Lived Happily Ever After!’ Tickets, Tue 23 May 2023 at 18:00 | Eventbrite.