SCREAMACHINE / GEARÓID DOLAN
“Protest/Dangerous” is the latest in a series of Protest works started in 2003 alongside the anti-Iraq War protests.
The work consists of semi-animated movies shot at protests. “Protest/Dangerous” was conceived and built as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump and consists of footage of him speaking, including his various objectionable stances, cut with scenes of protests about his election. The movie concentrates on images of protest signs and is accompanied by a mixed audio track made up of accompanying chants. The footage, shown in high contrast black and white, speeds up and stops at each significant sign, then moves along and stops every second on a new sign or significant image.
The movies are used in street interventions using custom-built video projectors. I drag a large cart of equipment—a video projector, an audio system, and generators—through the streets, dressed in military-style clothing. I rove the streets, projecting the content onto the buildings and structures of the city, often in the same streets where the original protests took place. In this case, the location was Union Square, a traditional gathering place for protest movements.
This act of intervention co-opts public and private/commercial buildings as they play host to my transfigured images of protest, the air filled with the chanting audio track. I choose the site of projection spontaneously and work until I am forced to move on by the police, whereupon I move to another site and continue.
This is a political act and an art action, blurring the lines between activism and opinion art. The appropriative action becomes as important as the content; the confrontational, guerrilla-style tactic demands attention and activates otherwise dormant spaces. Presenting unsolicited didactic content produces an environment of exposition, displaying an artistic interpretation of current affairs. It also breaks down the divide between public and private—between art presentation, propaganda, and advertisement. While performing, I interact with the public. The conversations are often politically, technically, or aesthetically focused. Sometimes I have to defend my opinions, or those of the protesters depicted, and I have previously been shouted at, or harassed, by police and aggravated audience members.