Josie Birch: I was here in the beginning, in the 1960s. I have lived here 38 years. I gave birth to two of my five daughters here. I would like to see Ballymun grow to maturity and take it’ s ...
The importance of giving expression to everyday culture remains at the core of Gerz's recent public projects that are shaped by input from diverse publics who rarely have a voice in official culture. Those who are powerless and without a voice become the substance of these works...Testimonials, opinions and confessions are strung together to form a puzzle of clues to a social map. Whether incomprehensibly idiosyncratic or utterly banal, the assemblage of voices, like any oral history, forms a fragmented picture of an historic moment. The intention driving Gerz' recent public projects is to literally make people speak, in as many languages as possible.Helga Pakasaar 1999
He is asking each donor a question: "If the tree could speak, what would it say about me? In the same way that you could ask of a person who buys a painting, what does the painting say about them? I'm like a medieval scribe. I write down in a nice way what they say to me. Something of what they say will be recorded on a lectern beside each tree.” … yet one can see the logic of his wanting to write poetry. He works with words all the time. He writes a great deal. The major part of his time is given over to words in one form or another. "Words are always present in the work," he says. "Words are written down, and then the writing travels through speech and different media, different stages. In everything I do, in public works, photo-texts, installations, I'm still taking words on a journey with me. More and more I exclusively make people speak. I try to get the public into a position of authorship.” In effect this is a redistribution of the balance of power in the transaction between artist and viewer, a change from the production-consumption model.Aidan Dunne 2004
Gerz has inversed the idea of imposed 'gifts' of social housing, institutional urbanism and cultural artefacts, which tends to view the residents as cultural and social recipients and contributes to the cycle of patriarchal bureaucracy, art for public places and ungrateful vandalism. Instead, Gerz invited the population of Ballymun to donate, to contribute by paying for their own environment.Jeremy Hunt 2005
In this work, Gerz inverted the relationship between social welfare recipients and public sponsors. The impecunious residents of a suburb that for decades had only been a bad news story were now becoming sponsors, and as it were, narrators of their own history. The streets and public spaces become places in this text. Gerz calls its unsuspecting authors the "new elites" who belong to many different social, ethnic and religious milieus, and indeed to generations, who rarely express themselves collectively. The amaptocare project is characterized by its many layers, its polyphony, and also by atypical social cohesion. The outcome is a plural sculpture that has changed the atmosphere within the imposed rehousing scheme, which may explain why the donated trees have been less vandalized than others planted as part of the regeneration project.Marion Hohlfeldt 2016
Public authorship / Work in public space
635 trees (Evergreen Ash, Beech, Birch, Cedar, Copper Beech, Lime, London Plane, Maple, Oak, Rowan, Scots Pine, Sophora, White Willow, Wild Cherry) in Ballymun, a deprived area in Dublin marked by drugs, poverty and crime... and a great community's spirit.
635 enamel plaques with texts, each 21 x 21 cm, installed besides the trees in a distance of 32 cm to the ground.
Not realised: names of all donors, engraved in the granite pavement of the Civic Plaza, glass map with the places of all 635 trees, 24 x 24 m, in the centre of the pavement, light installation by Laurent Fachard, LEA, Lyon.
Jochen Gerz was commissioned by the city of Dublin to realize a sculpture on the future Civic Plaza of Ballymun. The community in north Dublin had been built from the ground up during the 1960s and 1970s, and was regarded by most observers as a “failed utopia”. It will be completely redeveloped within the framework of a twelve-year master plan. Some 20,000 residents are relocated to new housing as part of this European regeneration project.
Gerz invites the residents to donate a tree to the public space of Ballymun at a place of their choice. Each donor meets with the artist and answers the question:
If this tree could speak, what would it say about you?
The responses of the participants of amaptocare were installed on a plaque beside each tree. It is planned to engrave the names of all those who participated into the ground of the Civic Plaza of Ballymun and to install in their middle a glass city map with the locations of all 635 donations. In 2007 the regeneration of Ballymun was aborted. Because of the Irish economic and financial crisis amaptocare remains a fragment. The planned redesign of the Civic Plaza is not implemented.
635 residents of Ballymun
The City of Dublin, Ballymun Regeneration Limited, MUIR Associates, Consulting Engineers, Dublin, Mc Cormac Jamieson Prichard, Architects, Mitchell & Associates, Landscape Architects, National College of Art and Design Dublin, Axis Centre Ballymun, Aisling Prior, Sheena Barrett, Ray Yeates
Ballymun 2005-2007 (1st and 2nd phase of planting)
I: Frankfurt/New York 2016, pp. 112-113
II: Hunt 2003. Oakley 2003. Browne 1, 2004. Browne 2, 2004. Cronin 1, 2004. Cronin 2, 2004. Cronin 3, 2004. Cronin 4, 2004. Cronin 5, 2004. Cronin 6, 2004. Cronin 7, 2004. Cronin 8, 2004. Cunningham 2004. Dunne 1, 2004. Falvey 2004. Gray 2004. Jordan 2004. Kelly 1, 2004. Kelly 2, 2004. Kelly 3, 2004. Kelly 4, 2004. Kelly 5, 2004. Kelly 6, 2004. Kelly 7, 2004. Kelly 8, 2004. Kelly 9, 2004. Kelly 10, 2004. Kelly 11, 2004. Kelly 12, 2004. Kelly 13, 2004. Kelly 14, 2004. Looney 2004. Murphy 2004. O’Toole 1, 2004. O’Toole 2, 2004. Tipton 2005a. Tipton 2005b. Hunt 2005. Ed. 15, 2006. Rennicks 2017
III: Pierce 2004. Burke 2005. Cronin 2005. Curran 2005. Dunne 2005. Kelly 1, 2005. Kelly 2, 2005. Kelly 3, 2005. Kelly 4, 2005. Murphy 1, 2005. Murphy 2, 2005. Stott 2005. Tipton 2005. Viney 2005. Ed. 2, 2006. McKeith 2006. Tipton 2, 2006. Ed. 1, 2007. Hurley 2007. Moloney 2007
V: Tipton 2009. Dublin 2009.