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A Rule of Silence


Locative Media Sound Work created in collaboration with David Stalling

The urban quarter of Grangegorman is emerging as a vital educational, health, and community centre in Dublin, including the new home of the Dublin Institute of Technology. Historically, this area housed numerous institutions, such as the Grangegorman Female Penitentiary, the depot of convicts for Van Diemen’s land, and various psychiatric hospitals and asylums — sites of personal and social trauma. As this area is repurposed, there is a risk of the experiences of its former residents slipping through the cracks of urban redevelopment, perpetuating the erasure of these histories, particularly those of marginalized populations including the poor, women, and those deemed mentally incompetent.

A Rule of Silence maps the forgotten and overlooked histories of the people institutionalized at Grangegorman, with special attention paid to the former Grangegorman Female Penitentiary. This work cultivates multisensory aesthetic experiences through the use of locative listening as an embodied re-mapping of the campus. With these projects, I evoke the traumatic hauntings of the site in order to open new means of participation and critical engagement with this changing urban space. Instead of trying to vocalize the experiences of institutionalized individuals, the works are meant to emphasize the silences that permeate the history of the site, indicating the presence of stories that can never be fully articulated nor understood.

Research of the Grangegorman Female Penitentiary’s history includes consulting primary source materials pertaining to the penitentiary, such as general prison registers, transport records, and files dedicated to specific individuals, all of which are located at the National Archives of Ireland. In addition, annual reports of the inspectors general from the years the prison was in operation (1836 - 1897) offer observations of prison conditions, suggestions for improvement, pertinent statistical data, as well as providing the text incorporated in the soundscape.





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