BRESAL Symposium 2017: Europe and the Social

Supported by the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance and the School of Humanities Research Incentivisation Scheme

NUI Galway

26-27 October 2017


Europe, as continent, social community, and political union, is in crisis. Societies are fraught with economic instability and cultural tensions, while the refugee crisis has led to humanitarian devastation and renewed vociferous debate about the limits of inclusion and tolerance within European societies. The growth of far-right politics as well as the tone and tenor of its discourse present alarming threats in social, political and cultural realms. For states lying outside the boundaries of the European Union on the continent, perhaps differing concerns animate many of the same tensions. Europe and the world await to see how the UK’s exit from the EU will shift balances of power, prestige and access in European society and beyond.


Artists and scholars, through this symposium, are invited to question the relationship(s) across art, society and the past, present and future(s) of the European project through interdisciplinary enquiry and practice. Panels will explore the historical contexts of European arts practice, scholarship, politics, culture and society, as well as focus on the urgency of the present moment, and anxieties regarding the future.


What is the role of the artist in the contemporary as well as historical moment in reshaping and calling into question the boundaries of “Europeanness” on scales ranging from the individual to the supra-national? What promise does looking towards practice-as-research as methodology and mode of social engagement at this particular juncture hold for European communities? And what warnings?


BRESAL is a forum for artists and scholars who are passionate about the intelligence of art. Based on the West Coast of Ireland, it was founded by the Burren College of Art, the Huston School of Film and Digital Media (NUI Galway) and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (UL). Its goal is to provide opportunities for artists-scholars to share their work, support doctoral level arts research, and advocate for recognition and support at a national and international level. The forum takes its name and inspiration from the mythical Celtic island of ‘Bresal’: an island off the West Coast of Ireland known to appear and disappear magically. It is a metaphor for our interest in art’s intelligence: sometimes obvious and sometimes illusive; both measurable and intangible.


Note: There is a free event, but tickets must be reserved in advance. Please reserve tickets at:




Thursday 26 October


Note: Art exhibitions from UL and the Burren College of Art on display throughout the conference


2.30: Registration


3pm: Opening Comments

Cathal O’Donoghue, Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, NUI Galway

Venue: Theatre


3.15 – 4.00: Performance-extract by Emma O’Grady, with post-show discussion

Chair: Marianne Ni Chinneide

Venue: Theatre


4.00 – 4.15: Break


4.15 – 5.00: Film-extract by Uinsionn MacDubhghaill, with post-screening discussion

Chair: Seán Crosson

Venue: Theatre


5.15 – 6.15: Book launch: Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland: Towards a New Interculturalism (Palgrave) by Dr Charlotte McIvor

Venue: Studio 1


Friday 27 October


Venue: All panels taking place in the theatre


10.00 – 11.30 Panel 1: Borders, Fragmentation and the Social

Chair: Felix O’Murchadha


Charlotte McIvor (DTP, NUI Galway): “Theatre as Intercultural Dialogue? When Social Policy Meets Performance Practice”


Andrew O’Baoill (English, Journalism, NUI Galway): “Pluralism, fragmentation, and fake news: challenges for journalism and democracy”


Nessa Cronin (Irish Studies, NUI Galway): “Border/Crossings? Collaborative Practices and the Transdisciplinary Research Agenda”


Uinsionn MacDubhghaill (Film, NUI Galway): “Investigating the polysemic social: a practice-based enquiry”


11.30-11.45: Break


11.45 – 1.15 Panel 2: Sound, Space and Circus: Reimagining Europe Through Arts Practice

Chair: Helen Phelan


Alan Dormer (Irish World Academy, UL): ‘Sound and the Social’


Grainne Hassett (SAUL, UL): ‘Building and Breaking Structures. Bearing Witness. (Calais Refugee camp, a city lost)’


Shane Holohan (Irish World Academy, UL): ‘Spanning the Artistic-Technical divide in Circus Arts Education: parallel processes (researcher/pedagogue and participating students/circus artists).’


1.15 – 2.15: Lunch


2.15 – 3.45 Panel 3: State of Uncertainty: Crisis, Dissent and the Visual Imaginary

Chair: Conor McGrady


Gavin Murphy, Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT: ‘The Moonlight of Fantasy: The Russian Revolution Now’


Declan Long, National College of Art and Design: ‘Contemporary Art & Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Recent Stories from Austria & Hungary’


Áine Phillips, Burren College of Art: ‘Future States: Performance as Practice Post Brexit’


3.45 – 4.00: Break


4.00 – 5.30 Roundtable: Research and Industry Policy: Irish/European Perspectives

Chair: Dr Miriam Haughton


Dan Carey, Director of the Moore Institute, NUI Galway

Monica Corcoran, Strategic Development, Arts Council

John Crumlish, CEO, Galway International Arts Festival

Maria Delgado, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

Patrick Lonergan, Chair, O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway

Lynette Moran, Creative Arts Producer and Festival Director


5.30 – 6. 00: Reflections and Closing Remarks


Conference Organisers:

Dr Miriam Haughton, Lecturer, O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. E:

Zsuzsanna Balázs, IRC Doctoral Scholar, O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. E:


Recent BRESAL Symposia include:


‘Questioning Method: Examining Practice in Art Research’

Hosted by the Burren College of Art

17-18 November 2015


‘And Sophia Danced…’ A Celebration of Arts Research

Hosted by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, UL

19-20 November 2014


‘The Intelligence of Art’ Art Practice and Research

Hosted by the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway

24-26 October 2013