Limerick, Ireland
Javier Burón & Eleanor Moloney, Empathic Space, 2010, performances, 16/30 march; 6/14/21 April

Javier Burón & Eleanor Moloney

b. 1977, Spain / b. 1974, Ireland

The Social Welfare Office receded to the back of people’s minds and hearts during the lavish years of the Celtic Tiger. It has always represented a lack of money, opportunity and independence. However, because of the global economic downturn, it is a building that is back in vogue. It has become the great equaliser in society. The long-term unemployed, qualified professionals, single mums and fresh-faced graduates must all participate in the same process.

Because it is a place where people are processed, there is an erosion of the individual in this space. From the moment the queue forms outside the door, to getting your ticket, to waiting in line, you become a number. The same form is used by all to describe a situation that is unique to them. Queuing likes this order, because it makes people feel the system is equitable and fair. But waiting is different, because people don’t want to feel they’re being processed as part of a faceless system which ignores their individuality.

A number of music performances are scheduled at peak hours to provide an ‘empathic space’ for social welfare users, who can be counted in their hundreds at peak hours. These performances propose a surreal experience which will create a time lapse of enjoyment and relaxation for those people waiting in queues. They allow an opportunity for the public to appreciate a public space that they might have been fortunate enough not to have had to engage with until now.

(Text: e v+ a – matters catalogue, 2010)

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