“We’re definitely excited and really honoured to get our beautiful art as far as the beautiful city of Paris.”
The Fringe Festival may have had to curb its output owing to pandemic related restrictions, but this hasn’t stopped its flights of imagination. We look at a number of shows which brave and embrace the new normal.
“We have been living too fast to love. We’ve been living too fast to stop and pay attention and empathise and listen.”
You’re walking down the cobblestone lanes of Temple Bar when something catches your eye; posters pasted on the side of walls like wanted signs from a Western. Approaching the pages, whose corners flap in the early Autumn breeze, you take a few minutes to read what they say. This is what Dubliners and Parisians alike will be experiencing this month when the Fringe Festival plasters three different utopian manifestos by three Irish collectives onto the city walls.
As part of the Fringe Lab and in collaboration with the Centre Culturel Irlandaise, Utopia or Bust: Manifestos for the New Era knocks our unstable reality for six, giving us a glimpse into a future filled with acceptance, equality and personal liberty. Irish collectives Gender.RIP, WeareGriot and Glitter Hole’s texts, portraits and illustrations can be found in the festival’s programme and will be posted on the walls of Dublin and Paris.
Gender.RIP went down a more traditional route with their futuristic vision. Delivered by the ‘Department of Art Liberation: Chonkiness Division’, each concise bullet point is another nail in the coffin of gender, oppression and prejudice.
Tributes to old revolutions such as the guillotine and simple demands like ‘culture workers to be compensated fairly for their labour’ can be found in their no-nonsense manifesto. This is paired with a powerful poem by Rainbow Fadeyi and illustration by Dámhín McKeown, that echo their insistence for the eradication of extreme bigotry and fatphobia.
Poetical and borderline philosophical, WeareGriot’s manifesto calls for the dismantling of oppressive structures and highlights the importance of perseverance and community: ‘progression continues, by burying our options of ignorance. We no longer get the luxury of rest.’
Feliciaspeaks, Dagogo Hart and Samuel Yakura collaborated on the piece, with Sam speaking to the “the beauty of [the writing process and how] we get to enjoy everyone’s flavour and perspective. At the same time, we bring together all of that into a nice pot of soup.” Quotes from the manifesto frame the black and white photos of the poets, the key words of their message popping from the page in flaming red.
“It’s really honouring how our art can travel as far as possible. It’s always rewarding to create what we create in our little rooms and our little spaces and then some stranger in another part of the world gets to see it and be inspired or be sparked in some way that we didn’t expect. That’s the beauty of art. We’re definitely excited and really honoured to get our beautiful art as far as the beautiful city of Paris.”
When asked about what impact they want to leave on the strangers who read their manifesto, Sam said the collective want “everybody to listen, to be a bit more empathetic…now, we’ve been forced…to stop and listen and look. Where are the gaps politically? Where are the gaps socially? Where are the gaps in all these different spheres that make up life and make up our society?
We have been living too fast to love. We’ve been living too fast to stop and pay attention and empathise and listen. We’re not saying we must all have the same perspective. We’re not saying we must all agree on the same thing but we should at least be able to listen and understand where each and everyone is coming from, why our experiences bring us to where we are, why we do the things that we do, why we say the things we say.”
Glitter Hole’s floral framed manifesto written by Beth Hayden, Tari Takavarasha and Viola Gayvis reflects the collaborative nature of their live performances through text. Emulating the horniess of their cabaret show, ‘making minds and thighs wet is [their] quest’. Not only do they want to stir the loins of the future but they call for the rejection of our modern day dystopias such as Direct Provision and the narrative of the angry black person.
The text is “still a performance,” according to Tari. “It’s a celebration of my fucking fabulous queerness. It doesn’t feel like I’m not saying it out loud.” For Beth, having it displayed so publicly “does change it and it does make it a bit more performative.”
“The manifesto was about this communal atmosphere and the collaborative nature of the show and I wanted that to translate in the portrait.” Intertwined in each other’s arms and covered in flowers, the models bathe in the light of the new dawn.
Queerness seeps from the page, grabs you by the hand and shows Glitter Hole’s utopia as the celebration it really is.
Words: Sophia McDonald
Interventions as part of Utopia or Bust can be seen around the city from September 5.
Fringe Festival runs from September Saturday 5 to Sunday September 20