Art activists mark Imbolc by renouncing Ireland's anti-abortion laws

2nd February to mark St Bridget’s feastday performances were staged in public settings across Ireland and London renouncing Ireland's anti-abortion laws. St Bridget is one of four Irish saints who “are recorded as openly and miraculously carrying out abortions”, the feast day was the pre-Christian festival of Imbolg (meaning ‘in the belly’).

We recorded the event at Connolly station in Dublin, the performance as you’ll see in the video collectively confronts the themes of censorship, self censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camradery. The location at Connolly is one of the transport hubs through which many of the 12 people who have to leave Ireland every day to access abortion in the UKL and beyond pass.
 

 

There was a lot of background noise and interruptions from security guards so below you’’ll find a transcript of what is being said. As the organisers say “Read aloud, the verses publicly present uncensored insights into real experiences. Both rhythm and structure reference the Hail Mary prayer that commemorates the moment in which Mary exercised her agency in consenting to becoming pregnant. These verses highlight the detrimental consequences of denying the agency of others and disregarding our consent, in essence attempting to enforce pregnancy”

OPENING

The Government decreed unto the people of Ireland
Thus 12 women are exiled every day

1.
At 27, she does not want to be a mother. She lives with her
boyfriend and they agree.

She has overcome obstacles to abortion before and ten years later she faces the same ones again. A women.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

2.
He is transgender and spent 3 hours at Dublin airport to make
them understand why his passport states he is female

The contraception failed once and he had to explain his life to a stranger. A Man.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

3.
She had 15 summers to her name. She was raped and is pregnant.
Her parents brought her to England for an abortion.

She lied to school and friends, afraid of their judgement.
She said she was going to England for a holiday. A Girl.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

4.
He minded their kids while she travelled with a heavy heart after the diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

Speaking a foreign tongue, they faced the sorrow
alone, one away and the other at home. A Man.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

5.
Bhí sí ag staidear agus ag sabháil airgid don ollscoil nuair a rinne sise agus a leannán botún.

De bharr botúin anháin, caithfidh sí leath a cuid coigiltis a chaitheamh ar ticéad eitleáin. Bean amháin.

Muintir na hÉireann, ardaigí bhur nglórtha.
Is fiú agus is feidir ár rogha fµein a dhéanamh.

6.
She is 23 and had a baby. They are both living with HIV. She is a recovering addict. Every day is a struggle.

She knows she can't afford another baby. She can't afford even this. She borrows money to travel. A Women.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

7.
She had to travel all the way to Lopndon from Norther Ireland: a second class citizen despite her UK passport.

Even though she had paid her taxes just the same, she was not afforded cover by the NHS as others are. A Woman.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

8.
She was an asylum seeker, arrived pregnant after being raped.
She tried to get to England but was sent back by the powers that be.

She found help online, ordered abortion pills and had them delivered to her from the North. A Woman.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

9.
She has a child with severe disabilities. She cares for him every hour of the day and night.

Another child would mean less care for her first. It's impossible. She travels to England. A Woman.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

10.
While her cancer was in remission, she got pregnant and it endangered her chance of recovery.

A passport out of date delayed her journey more. She never recovered after that. A Woman.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

11.
She was against the idea of abortion until she needed one herself. She told a friend who syported her choice.

They travelled to England together. She told everyone they were going shopping. A Woman.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

12.
She needed an abortion but had no money to travel and no time to smuggle pills from the North.

She found a cheap backstreet abortion but it has cost her health and fertility ever since. A Woman.

CLOSING

The government decreed unto the people of Ireland
Thus 12 women are exiled everyday.

The amendment was made law.
And we live as criminals.

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

People of Ireland raise your voices
We are all worthy of our right to choose

 

Ahead of the events organisers said

"The readings will take place at 6.01pm - following the traditional time for the ringing of the evening Angelus bells. Performers will each wear a blue item of clothing and read from handmade booklets. The Renunciation is an original work about the diverse circumstances of those attempting to access abortion services that are not provided in Ireland . The contents are based on legal cases and anecdotes shared with the producers of the work ‘The home|work Collective’.

"The Renunciation is respectfully, an intervention in the reflective space offered by the modern day Angelus. This work contains a set of stories that describe a set of social rituals for 12+ people from Ireland seeking abortions daily. Read aloud, the verses publicly present uncensored insights into real experiences. Both rhythm and structure reference the Hail Mary prayer that commemorates the moment in which Mary exercised her agency in consenting to becoming pregnant. These verses highlight the detrimental consequences of denying the agency of others and disregarding our consent, in essence attempting to enforce pregnancy. The Renunciation challenges the double standards dictated by idealised notions of womanhood and mothering that ignore present day realities and less-than-ideal circumstances.

"The Renunciation is a production by home|work, an initiative that collectively confronts the themes of censorship and self-censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camradery. The title refers to the domestic policies of the Irish state that preclude access to abortion in the country. It is also a nod to the traditional sphere of work of women in Ireland and the practice of making change from within. home|work is situated at the interface of art and activism. It offers a forum for critical analysis through artistic exploration and a support network for the development of group interventions and individual works on themes of common interest.

Confirmed locations for tonights performances include:
• Colbert Station, Limerick
• Connolly Station, Dublin
• Kings Cross Station, London
• Paul St, Cork
• Maynooth University, Kildare
• Shop St, Galway

For more information see www.homeworkcollective.tumblr.com and www.abortionrightscampaign.ie

WORDS & VIDEO Editing: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

  


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