08 November 2011

And that's a wrap

Thank you for your submission
UpStart Wrap Party, Dublin, Friday 14th October
Way back in the mists of time, before Dame Street, before Venice, before even the six months of living hell that we will simply refer to as "the incident with the pancreas", in a golden pastoral age that future generations will refer to as "February, 2011", Unkie Dave and his trusted Dublin Bike whiled away the days criss-crossing the city like the dotted red line that follows Indiana Jones around the globe, seeking out a series of artistic and literary posters that appeared on lamp-posts throughout Dublin during the General Election campaign.

Taking advantage of an election law that suspends fines for littering with posters during campaign periods, the UpStart project called for submissions of photographs, paintings, poetry and more that would be turned into hardbacked posters and mounted throughout the city, creating possibly the largest open-air art show the city had ever seen.

So much bigger at eye level than they seem halfway up a lamp-post
UpStart Wrap Party, Dublin, Friday 14th October
For two solid weeks I cycled around and captured each new set as they were put up, a bit of a clueless treasure hunt as I had no involvement or contact with the organisers and was pretty much cycling around blindly to random locations to see if any were there.

In the end I took over four hundred photographs, proving that my clients then were as understanding about me taking extending periods of time off each day as they are now. I geotagged the photos and uploaded them in batches to a Flickr set, tweeting each new upload, and in the process was contacted by many of the artists and writers who were happy to discover where their posters had appeared. In the end I got to know some of the UpStart organisers online when they reached out to me to use my photos for their web publicity and map of the project, but I never had a chance to meet them in the Really Real World as shortly after the project came to an end (a day or two after polling day) I suffered the first attack of "the incident with the pancreas" and pretty much lost the next six months of my life.

One week into life on Occupied Dame Street though I had an opportunity to redress all this, as UpStart held their wrap party on October 14th, down in Block T in Smithfield. Leaving the barricades temporarily and slipping away on the Luas for an hour or two I finally was able to meet the UpStart folks and thank them in person for brightening up the city in a way that I hadn't seen before, public art by the people and for the people, in a manner that I honestly believe touched more people than Dublin Contemporary with all its multi-million Euro budget could ever have aspired to.

With posters arranged in a gallery space on one floor, and random mystery selections on a second floor available to take home by all party-goers at the end of the night, the wrap party was a celebration of the project with artists, writers and members of the wider public mingling and reminiscing. I couldn't stay too long myself as Dame Street was calling, just as well though as I found myself become just a tad emotional being confronted by the physical manifestation of the last happy experience I had before "the incident with the pancreas" and everything turned to serious poo.

Hopefully though when I look back on 2011 it will be the bookended memories of UpStart and #OccupyDameStreet that hold fast and spring forth, and not the pathological hiccups that lie between.

You can check out all my UpStart photos in a Flickr set here, you can read more about the project on their website and blog and there is a partial map of the project here.

A huge thanks to Aaron, Samuel, all the organisers and volunteers in UpStart and most especially everyone who submitted pieces, for brightening up the streets of Dublin in an otherwise forgettable February (forgettable apart from the whole election thing I suppose), you guys are all amazing!

(and yes, I do realise that this post is about three weeks late but in fairness I have been somewhat #occupied...)

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