Drawing the Ring of Steel: A Mnemonic Device

In Belfast, where contested notions of identity and divergent perspectives on history still polarize the population, and no effective mechanism exists to facilitate healthy public discourse about the past, the lived experience of the Troubles is receding and with it an opportunity for discovery and reconciliation:

Drawing the Ring of Steel: The Mnemonic Device for Belfast proposal occupies a territory between urban design, co- design and the social practice of public art.

This particular mnemonic device is designed to utilize story-telling as a means of individualized remembrance. Located in the heart of Belfast, the proposal takes the form of an “drawing” (orthographic-plan) of the security cordon that encircled the city’s shopping district (Ring of Steel 1972-1997); the image being a visceral reminder of freedoms lost and only recently regained. It relies on prompts in the form of words, images and architectural fragments to trigger memories; a very effective mechanism for individualized forms of remembering.

What the project includes:
1) A Performative Redrawing of the Ring of Steel marking the location of the security cordon that encircled Belfast City Centre 1972-1998; traces of which are still evident in the physical and psycho-geographic environment. The ring will be drawn by performers (Collaborator: Paula McFetridge, Kabosh Theatre), using yellow chalk paint. The audience interaction will happen at the main entrances and exits into the city's social center. After passing through the redrawn security gates, they will encounter a performer dressed as a period newspaper reporter; recording audience stories.

A project website with GIS mapping of the Ring of Steel (1972-98) is being constructed as a legacy project.

The BBC Radio 4 has 1) BBC Radio 4 program about the process of originating and ultimately realizing the project: transmission 2020.

Funded by Boston, MA (July 2019)