Dubliners used to 'life in the trenches'


DUBLINERS HAVE “got used to the trenches and life in the trenches”, according to Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan.

Speaking at the opening of an exhibition, Moving Dublin, by Paris-based artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly, he noted the resignation they had found “about the inevitable dullness of the modern city that has grown around us”.

Referring to the “leaden skies and wide, sweeping plains” filmed by the artists, Mr Ryan quoted them as saying that people were “trying to make sense of the indecipherable expanse” while their lives had been “ruined by the merciless rhythm of city life”.

What he shared with Cleary and Connolly, he said, was “a sense of outrage at what we are doing in our urban spaces, and what we should be doing instead, and, more than anything else, the missed opportunities for our people”.

Noting that their “subversive” exhibition and book had been funded under the Per Cent for Art scheme by South Dublin County Council, he said they “may have sown the seeds for an alternative to the destruction of the 99 per cent spent on roads”.

“The artists gave people cameras to record their daily journey, and what they recorded was car after car park after congestion. I just think that is very true of the actual urban space we have created, and the urban patterns we have created.”

Recalling that he had been a cycling campaigner, he asked: “Why do we put up with it? Why do we sit in our half-tons of metal, individualised, separated every day? Why do we allow it to continue, year in, year out, and spend monies to encourage that?”

The only explanation, the Minister suggested, was that people in Dublin had “got used to the idea, got used to the trenches and life in the trenches. And some of our urban planning, I think, is trench- like in its thinking.”

He commended Cleary and Connolly for raising issues such as “where are we? Are we an ultra-liberal pirate off the coast of Europe? Or are we more a northern European social-democratic, well-designed community? I think those questions were well put ...”

** Moving Dublinby Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly is published by Gandon Editions at €20, including a DVD. The exhibition continues at DIT, Portland Row, Dublin 1, until June 15th.