103% Funded


Target: €1750


€1,805 Raised


28 Funders

PERSONAL EFFECTS a history of possession

By Alan Counihan


PERSONAL EFFECTS: a History of Possession, an installation to run from 5th-14th June in Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin.

This installation will be shown in Culture Box, Temple Bar in the month of June 2014, the first time to be shown outside of its place of origin, Grangegorman Mental Hospital in Dublin. It will be specially adapted for Culture Box and then available to tour non-commercial gallery spaces around the country bringing a dark history to public light.

The work has grown out of an engagement with the personal effects of past patients from The Richmond Asylum - later St Brendan’s Hospital, in Grangegorman, Dublin. Its title should also be read to include the meaning of the effects of institutional care upon the person. It bears witness to the histories of anonymous persons who lived, and were cared for, within the institution. Their possessions, while charged objects, are totems of the everyday, suggestive of inner lives no less rich nor remarkable than our own and revelatory of stories as much about ourselves and about our society as about their owners.

This work is created in response not only to the retrieved possessions but also to their original possessors who were, in turn, possessed by the institution for the duration of their care. It is a goal of the work to allow an imagination of life – both inside and outside of Ireland's mental hospitals - as “others” might have experienced it. This is a process not only of bearing, but also of sharing, witness.

Within the darkened gallery will hang a number of upended handbags, their contents suspended as though falling to the ground. A light source from within each bag will illuminate its suspended contents below. Readings from correspondence found within the bags, from case notes and hospital management records will form the soundtrack. Other visual compositions are created from hundreds of rosary beads and house keys also found in the annex of the old asylum and mental hospital.

There is no commercial element to this work, Personal Effects: a history of possession. No works are for sale. Though aided by much in-kind support and permissions from the Grangegorman Development Agency, the HSE, and Axis Arts Centre, Ballymun, the project has, regrettably, received no financial support from any source to date and it is deemed preferable not to seek such support from the pharmaceutical industry. As a result this has put great strain on what can be achieved and on my own personal resources.
I hope this work of social and cultural activism will be considered worthy of support. Assistance is sought only for essential outgoing costs to realise the adapted work as planned for a gallery context. Contributions will help to meet revised fabrication, transport, installation, print and invigilation expenses. My time is not included in any of these costs.

To learn more of the project please visit: