“The cultural common, Hardt and Negri write, “is dynamic, involving both the product of labor and the means of future production. This common is not only the earth we share but also the languages we create, the social practices we establish, the modes of sociality that define our relationships, and so forth.” It is built up over time and, in principle, open to all. In this way it is possible even to view “the metropolis as a factory for the production of the common.”
“not only the earth we share” is a film and exhibition work produced over multiple years of collaboration with overlapping communities of Sailortown, Belfast, Northern Ireland and commissioned by Household CIC.
Sailortown was a working class neighbourhood housing 5-10,000 families, which was demolished in the 1960s to construct an as-yet unfinished motorway interchange. Since then it has stood as an iconic keystone in the identity construction of the city, and is the axis around which cultural identity of former residents and their families revolves. Since 2008 a small social housing block nestled between parking lots, motorways, and the docks, has re-experienced the 1960s exclusion from city planning, and development as a wing of colonial occupation is experienced afresh in ongoing encounters with the same unfinished road development being expanded, property speculation enveloping them, and lack of basic infrastructure keeping them isolated from the city.
The film is a construction of the acts of producing community, and the function of play as mediating identity, trauma, and the production of cultural commons in opposition to the extractive process of development and enclosure. It follows overlapping but discontinuous communities of place over a number of years through their modes of self-representation, elective and cultural activity, and the various rhythms of imagining their place in a neighbourhood of memory, play, and imagination.
‘Not only the earth we share’ was made through a multi-year collaboration with the elderly scattered, and young resident communities of Sailortown and platforms their production of cultural commons and continuing existence as a community of resistance. Through film workshops with children, docker poetry, song, prayer as protest, and the structuring of time through ritual, procession, and elective activities it is an elevation of the cultural commons as an urban quality both under continual threat from, and in continual opposition to, the imperial project of property development.
Collaborative stagings of the past, present, and future conditions of life in a neighbourhood are poetically and messily plotted out, and the continuation of life in the cracks of the city through conscious platforming of culture as resistance exists as an interplay, deconstructing the edifice of ethnofiction and weaving between the colonial impact of development, and the resistant qualities of voice and imagination.
Breifne Lomac Gillhooly
David Browne Murray
John ‘Giovanni’ Marsella
Jonathan HS Ross
Robert Martin Gillespie
Sighle Breathnach Cashell
Sinead Breathnach Cashell