Cork Ignite

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


    This two-year practice-led research into disability arts practice in a public setting resulted in Cork Ignite, a major, free, public art outdoor projection event in the city centre of Cork, Ireland, which became one of the largest outdoor disability-led public artworks in Europe. McKeown demonstrated a new way of working collaboratively, rooted in his own lived experiences of disability and in those of people often deemed beyond disability engagement. Research results included four artworks: a video artwork made of 21 vignettes, a live performance, two collaborative sound/video compositions and an exhibition. Cork Ignite was instigated by an invitation by Create Ireland, Dublin, and was funded by Arts and Disability Ireland‎, Cork City Council and The Arts Council (Ireland).

    This research sought to develop innovative disability-inclusive public art with ambitious engagement (Wodiczko, 2015), collaboration and expenditure processes to transform conventional cultural event production (Dodd, 2010), that views and uses disabled people archetypically. McKeown’s expertise in projection methods, technology and dramaturgy formed the project’s participatory research design, the structure of which embraced embodied discoveries around identity revealed tangentially through artistic and technological collage methodologies. This fundamentally challenged tropes that are often applied to disabled people’s lives – Exclusion (Barnes, 2005), Ableism (Loja, 2013) and the Tragedy Model (Oliver, 2012). Cork Ignite was conceived as a dialogical process (Kester, 2014; Finkelpearl, 2013), underpinned by the project’s ability to affect concepts of ‘bodymind difference’ (Viscardis, 2019). 

    The resulting bespoke multi-media production, which explored access, enablement and status throughout, led to the public and participants seeing and presenting themselves, and their social relations, equitably. With an audience of 7,000-10,000, Cork Ignite’s research directly engaged 20 organisations, approximately 100 participants including 20 disabled artists and their PA’s along with 30 volunteers. Traditional perceptions of commissioners and partners were challenged by disabled people as fully-engaged creators of the unique project, using often exclusionary high-end technology. This led to the project being awarded status as the central event in Culture Night Ireland in Cork. In superseding a normative and exclusionary City Centre (Kitchin, 1998; Bate, 2019), McKeown drew major partnership investment, money, time and permission that transformed Cork City Council’s commissioning processes and practice. This has had lasting significance for national arts modelling in Ireland, particularly within public spaces. 

    Cork Ignite, resulted from an invitation by Create Ireland, Dublin, and was funded by Arts and Disability Ireland and others. garnering significant media coverage, transnational partners (FACT, Liverpool) and exponential impact when McKeown was invited to create, We Are Still Here at St Helens (Heart of Glass, 2018).
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    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2015


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