Dublin City Arts Office
The LAB, Foley Street, Dublin 1

+353 1 222 5455

Past Exhibition

Policing Dialogues

By What’s the Story? Collective

September 14 - October 23 2010

An Exploration of Neighbourhood Relations of Power

Policing Dialogues is a six week residency at The LAB by What’s the Story? Collective. It will include a public exhibition of film and installation based on young people’s experiences of power and policing in Dublin South Central District as well as an extensive programme of workshops, dialogues and meetings. This creative and learning residency is aimed at all audiences but particularly at critical thinkers, policy makers, young people and those who work with them. An Garda Síochana have also agreed to participate in the programme and crucially, the learning from this process will directly inform the content of a groundbreaking new training scheme for Gardai, aimed at more constructive interactions with young people. In hosting Policing Dialogues Dublin City Council’s The LAB Gallery highlights contemporary visual art practice that centres on dialogue and long-term documentation, often illuminating social and political concerns.

About the Collective

What’s the Story? Collective are an interdisciplinary group of young adults, volunteer youth leaders, community youth workers and an artist who have been exploring issues of power and policing for a number of years. The Collective are: Nicola Whelan, Jonathan Myers, Jamie Hendrick, Garrett Kenny, Nichola Mooney, Michael Byrne, Fiona Whelan


Young People, Police and Power come face to face through Art

How young people feel about power and powerlessness in their dealings with the Gardaí is at the heart of a groundbreaking new art exhibition opening in Dublin today.  Policing Dialogues is an honest and raw exploration of neighbourhood relations of power in South Inner City Dublin told through the very personal stories of teenagers. 

Many of the stories talk about daily experiences of discrimination, harassment or suspicion from Gardaí.  However, instead of driving a wedge between the Gardaí and the community, the art project, which started life three years ago, has brought about an ongoing dialogue between the two.  

Broadcaster Vincent Browne will open the exhibition and six-week residency, which is the work of the What’s the Story? Collective, a project of artist Fiona Whelan and The Rialto Youth Project.  In hosting Policing Dialogues Dublin City Council’s The LAB Gallery highlights contemporary visual art practice that centres on dialogue and long-term documentation, often illuminating social and political concerns.

Fiona Whelan said that the local Gardaí were very responsive to the art project and accepted that issues needed to be worked on.  Now, the stories and learning gathered will feed into the development of training for Gardaí to help improve relations with young people, not just in inner city Dublin, but across the country. 

“The stories explore a common experience of being judged or a sense of indignity or disrespect from certain Gardaí,” Fiona said.  “The young men and women talk about how they are approached or assumed guilty before even being asked to speak or questioned.”

A youth worker in the collective said: “This art project has helped young people to have their voice heard by people in power.  This just doesn’t happen in these young people’s lives, which is what makes this project so real, emotional and meaningful,”

The exhibition will centre around a stark film of an event last year when Gardaí themselves read out some of the young people’s stories about the actions of some of their colleagues. 

As well as visual representations of the over 60 stories already documented, the residency will continue to work with other young people from across the South City to allow them to tell their ongoing stories about power and policing.  These stories will then be stored in an exhibition evidence room.  The residency will also have an extensive programme of workshops, dialogues and meetings about power and policing. 

You are welcome to attend the launch and six-week residency.  Young people will be available to talk about their common experiences of power and policing.  However, as the stories are all anonymous, they will not refer directly to their own specific experiences. For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Public Communications Centre, Tel: 087-2935207

Launch with Guest Speaker Vincent Browne Tuesday 14th September 2010 6-8pm


Three Young People Talk

Story 1:

“There was a time when I was arrested because they thought I was someone else. I was in the cell and there were 2 Garda in there with me. One of them took mug shots of me because obviously they had to put on file who they arrested so that was alright but then that Garda actually left. He left me with one Garda and he wasn’t the nicest of Garda, not someone you would actually want to talk to. He started saying ‘You have to take this off for the strip search’ and really going through it. I was doing what he was asking because that is what I had to do, well it was what I thought I had to do and I wasn’t able to question him on it in case he actually started really controlling it more, so I did what he said. But when I felt most powerless was when he turned around and said; ‘You need to squat for me’ and I felt it was really disgusting. I was never in trouble in me life and I was really scared.”

Story 2

“At the end of the day, we still need the Gardai, like if your gaf is after getting broken into or if someone has been murdered, you still need them. But we never look at them that way. We look at them as being the pricks that come in here, raid gafs and completely intervene in people’s lives. But I suppose when they are not here, what are they doing? Are they out there trying to get someone who is after robbing someone’s gaf or trying to catch somebody who is after murdering somebody? And in here, I understand why people want them. They want safety for their children. That’s understandable.

When they are kicking in my door it’s a different story.”

Story 3

“I’d say I get stopped about 20 times a month.

I’m going to the shop, they stop me.

I’m going to get a dvd, they stop me.

I’m going home, they stop me.

I’m going to me mates, they stop me.

I can’t win with them.”


What’s the Story? Collective will be in conversation with Vagabond Reviews, The LAB, Tues 19th Oct 11am-1pm

What’s the Story? is a project of artist Fiona Whelan & The Rialto Youth Project.                           


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