The Embedded Camera Woman

Text by curator Ronan McCrea

Twenty video tapes are playing simultaneously. On view is video documentation made by Augustine o Donoghue of various protests and anti-war demonstrations she attended in the run up and during the recent war in Iraq. Crowd movements, speeches, chants, argy-bargy, singing and cheers stream out all the once from the various monitors crammed into the small space. At various locations – Shannon, Dublin, outside the Dail, the rituals of public protest enacted by participants fill one’s vision.

O’ Donoghue does not edit the tapes down to small sound -bites in a purposeful negation of the representation of the anti- war movement by the mainstream media. Unsurprizingly ten second inserts of the protest on national television represented the action in a way totally different from the protester’s interpretations of the events. Donoghues intention is to redress that imbalance.

What does the artists propose with this presentation? On one level it is a document, a historical primary source. O’Donoghue notes that the shooting of the video footage was not started with the intention of creating an art project, but rather as a necessary record, alternative view. The availability of small and relatively affordable camcorders means that alternate images of the protest can be created in contrast to mainstream media. It is a balancing of images. As an artist O’Donoghue appears more concerned with the actual practice of protest than with any demarcation lines of identity or activist or citizen.

The installation of the videos created in the small gallery The Return gallery delivers a powerful visual and emotional hit as soon as one enters the space. The noise of the protests from each monitor mingle and this has  the effect on the viewer of being surrounded and in the middle of the action. In addition, has spoken about the classical architectural motifs that are a feature of The Return gallery space , provoking a reaction to disrupt the notion of order, proportion and authority implied by such architecture. Neither does she operate with the size of the gallery, anxiously cramming the space with noise and images of protest. with these modes of presentation and simultaneous stream of so much footage, the ritualised and theatrical aspects of street demonstration come to the fore. there is a regular cast appearing in different episodes: speakers, crowds, individual action, the ebb and flow of crowd dynamics. The role of the viewer in the midst of the barrage of images completes the scenario.