Contributors (artists, poets, lawyers, activists): AM Baggs, Éric Baudelaire, Rossella Biscotti, Caroline Campbell (Loitering Theatre), Maud Craigie, Máiréad Enright, Forerunner, Michael Holly, Justice for Magdalenes Research, Vukašin Nedeljković, Felispeaks, Charlotte Prodger, Bob Quinn, Sibyl Montague, Kevin Mooney, Julie Morrissy, Rory Pilgrim, Rajinder Singh, Soft Fiction Projects, Anne Tallentire, Saoirse Wall, Eimear Walshe, Suzanne Walsh, Gernot Wieland
The Law is a White Dog borrows its title from a book by Colin Dayan, which explores how legal rituals have the power to "make and unmake" persons. Historically, certain categories of person have been invented mainly in order to confine or punish them—the slave, the criminal, the homosexual, the insane—and these categories are further entangled and haunted by classifications based on race. Conceived in the legal imagination in this way, these different classes of person are allocated unequal capacities for reason and for pain, and are distributed different rights to property—whether rights to own one’s own body, or to acquire land. In a west of Ireland context, Dayan’s text offers new ways to recognise persistent legal spectres and zones of exception in the landscape, and to consider the interaction of capital with the institutions of Church and State.
As a curatorial proposal, The Law is a White Dog invites artists to refute categorisation, and to invent new languages and forms of expression in order to develop affinities with others. Responses involve forms of memoir, analysis, mourning, fable, film and song. Again and again, an obstacle occurs: the problem of how sensing bodies, as sources of knowledge, conflict with legal and regulatory logics. How do we know the law, and how does the law know us?
Unfolding throughout a historical global pandemic, where movement is restricted, The Law is a White Dog podcast series transports artworks into remote formats that maintain a sense of intimacy and intensity:
Episode 1: Mel Baggs, In My Language
Episode 2: Saoirse Wall, The Leaf and the Saviour Guy
Episode 3: Suzanne Walsh, Lazarus Lingua
Episode 4: Rory Pilgrim, The Undercurrent
Episode 5: Gernot Wieland, Depression in Animals
Episode 6: Eimear Walshe, Fuck Box
Episode 7: Forerunner, the Future and stuff
Episode 8: Maud Craigie, Indications of Guilt, pt. 1
Episode 9: Julie Morrissy, Positions Gendered Male in Bunreacht na hÉireann / 1937 Constitution of Ireland
Episode 10: Vukašin Nedeljković, Asylum Archive
The podcast series places artists and artworks in dialogue with legal researchers and practitioners from the Irish Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, both located at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Podcasts are available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and Google. Episode transcripts available here.
The Law is a White Dog book features an eclectic range of commissioned writing, original research and artwork. This includes poetry by Julie Morrissy, photography by Rajinder Singh, an illustrated essay by Eimear Walshe, and extracts from two intergenerational feminist projects by Caroline Campbell (Loitering Theatre) and Soft Fiction Projects. Máiréad Enright’s essay explores how the imagery of dogs roams across testimonies of institutional abuse in Ireland, and how survivors insist on forms of repair, accountability and truth-telling that might one day redeem both the law and the state that underwrites it. The Law is a White Dog book is still available to order here.
An exhibition took place at An Post Festival Gallery, Galway Arts Centre, 126 Artist-Run Gallery and Engage Art Studios. Two outdoor artworks are documented here. Artist talks presented with GMIT Centre for Creative Arts and Media are available here.