Personal Effects: A History of Possession is a work by artist and writer Alan Counihan on display in The Long Stores, Old St. Brendan’s Hospital (Behind the Clocktower), Lower Grangegorman, Dublin 7 from Thursday 1 May to Saturday 10 May 2014 as part of Phizzfest 2014. The exhibition will be open daily from 11.00am – 4.00pm. The work is based on the personal effects of dead or discharged patients of Grangegorman Mental Hospital. Its first site-specific installation will take place in a disused building close to where the belongings were discovered in the attics of that institution in 2010.
Following two years of research and development, this site-specific installation, is created in response not only to the possessions discovered within the hospital complex but also to their possessors who were in turn possessed by the institution for the duration of their care. The work also responds to the official archival records of the Richmond Asylum, latterly St Brendan’s Hospital, and to the history of institutional care for the mentally ill in Ireland as a whole. It is a goal of the work to allow an imagination of life – both within and without the institutions – as “others” might have experienced it. It is in our ability to imagine lives other than our own that our compassion, or lack of it, is rooted. A great and stark cultural richness is to be found within this material that tells us much about ourselves and about our society.
A radio documentary tracking the project is currently in process for RTE’s Documentary on One.
For more information visit the Personal Effects website.