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Photo of Róisín Power Hackett

The Finest Specimens of Fossilised Duration

A commission by Arts & Disability Ireland featuring The Birthday Party by Áine O’Hara and Ode to Sweeney’s by Philip Kenny.
Curated by Róisín Power Hackett


Memories are ‘the finest specimens of fossilised duration concretised as a result of a long sojourn, [and] are to be found in and through space’ –
Gaston Bachelard

The Finest Specimens of Fossilised Duration is an exhibition that presents Áine O’Hara’s The Birthday Party and Philip Kenney’s Ode to Sweeney’s. Through their multi-sensory works the exhibition aims to highlight the overlaps in theatre, spoken word and visual art that can make art more accessible. The goal of this exhibition is to display the plurality of our human perceptions. The variety of entry points into the artworks, whether aurally, visually or through the written word, enrich the possibilities of how they can be perceived.

Both The Birthday Party and Ode to Sweeney’s show how our memories are rooted more often in places than in time. These works affirm the term topoanalysis, coined by the philosopher Gaston Bachelard. Bachelard believed that memories are ‘the finest specimens of fossilised duration concretised as a result of a long sojourn, [and] are to be found in and through space’.

The Birthday Party by Áine O’Hara is both live-art and theatre. The work has previously appeared both in theatres and at live-art events including Smock Alley’s Scene and Heard festival in 2017. The Birthday Party speaks about home, and family, and why the inside of your head can be the most unwelcoming place of all. O’Hara’s work investigates how the places you are from shape who you are, whether you like it or not, and often compound mental illnesses further. For The Finest Specimens of Fossilised Duration, O’Hara’s performance has been re-imagined with a series of still images of her performances accompanied by an audio recorded performance and her performance script.

Ode to Sweeney’s by Philip Kenny is a film of a poem reflecting the artist’s experiences of a pub called Sweeney’s on Dame Street in Dublin, which has since closed. Sweeney’s was a hub for artistic creation in Dublin especially for music, spoken word, and improv comedy. The artist took part in many open mic nights there and became part of the creative community. This film has been specially made for The Finest Specimens of Fossilised Duration. It was a collaboration between Kenny and different professionals including Bob Glynn as director, Ruth Kerr as director of photography and editor, Jef Jef Jef and Shazbot as lighting designers and David Griffin as sound designer.

I am an Irish curator, artist, and writer. I graduated from the National College of Art & Design with a BA in Fine Art Paint in 2012 and an MA in Art in the Contemporary World in 2013. Since my BA I have focused on interdisciplinary performance as I have always been intrigued by the crossovers between visual art and literature. Conceptually, I have focused on the deconstruction of language and history, often from a feminist perspective.

However, in 2017, I began to explore another aspect of my identity, my disability. In 2019, I was awarded the inaugural ARC LAB Curatorial Scholarship to research access to and inclusion in the arts for disabled people/people with disabilities. As part of this scholarship I am a student on the MA in Art and Research Collaboration (ARC) programme at Institute of Art, Design and Technology and based at the LAB Gallery as the Assistant Curator. As the Curatorial Scholar, I will be curating A Consideration of All Bodies, an exhibition of work by people with disabilities, to take place in the LAB Gallery in 2021. I have previously held positions in Pallas Projects/Studios, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and Sarah Walker Gallery.

Click here to visit Róisín’s website

The Birthday Party by Áine O'Hara, at Scene and Heard Festival, Smock Alley Theatre, 2017. Photo by Carla Rogers

The Birthday Party by Áine O’Hara

  • Audio Description
  • Open Captioning

Written and performed by Áine O’Hara Curated by Róisin Power Hackett Sound design, Paul Lynch at Studio 4

Ode to Sweeney’s by Philip Kenny, Arts & Disability Ireland Curated Space commission, 2020. Photo by Jef Jef Jef

Ode to Sweeney’s by Philip Kenny

  • Audio Description
  • Open Captioning

Written and performed by Philip Kenny Curated by Róisín Power Hackett Director, Bob Glynn. Producer, Róisín Power Hackett. Director of Photography & Editor, Ruth Kerr. Lighting Designers, Shazbot & Jef Jef Jef. Sound Design, David Griffin.