On temporary display

This instalment in Anu Productions’ Thirteen project takes us to a museum, but the exhibition is about to be derailed

 

Thirteen: Constituent(s)

National Museum, Collins Barracks

***

Although they mine the past for their performances, you could never accuse Anu Productions of making museum pieces. Strange, then, that we are led to a charmingly preserved 1913 tram car, unhappily adrift in the grounds of Collins Barracks. Once a cheerfully “in character” Dublin worker appears – penury sowed in patches on his tattered pants – to appraise us of the strikers and scabs of the Dublin Lockout, the riots, rammings and pistol shots, the performance could easily blend into one of those hopelessly dutiful living history lessons that make so many museums seem like cut-rate theme parks. But director Louise Lowe, whose wicked streak of humour can often go unnoticed, is about to derail this train.

If it depended on a contemporary jolt alone, it would be too blunt a reiteration of the “then and now” agenda of a commemoration, but the performance is actually about visibility and disruption. “You’re making a show of us,” one humiliated person says, and if such attention, in the midst of real despair, is unwanted, both the watchers and Anu itself are acidly criticised for the luxury of creating an audience. It’s a cowing point, artfully made, and it stops us in our tracks.

Until Sat 21