Dublin’s newest art installation, a multicoloured monstrosity occupying a historic plinth in front of City Hall, has garnered deserved controversy since its unveiling yesterday.
However, what has largely flown under the radar is the anti-Irish messaging laced into the artwork.
Titled ‘RGB Sconce, Hold Your Nose’, the stated purpose of the statues playdough like colour scheme, according to creator Alan Phelan, is to ‘signify the diversity of modern Dublin’.
However, the explanation given on Dublin City Council’s Sculpture Dublin website regarding the subtitle of the piece is far, far more concerning.
“The subtitle of the work ‘Hold Your Nose’ refers to a collection of ‘sanitary songs’ that was published during the 1884 Dublin Castle Scandal, located in the adjacent building complex which was the site of the British colonial administration.”
“Irish Nationalists revealed homosexual activities of high-ranking British civil servants, using this as proof of corrupt and immoral British rule. The poetry pamphlet instructs ‘decent men’ to ‘hold their noses’ so not to breath in the perceived debauchery of the castle.”
“Reclaiming this little-known history and subverting this olfactory phrase into the visual realm, builds in a self-critique where flamboyance and failure are united to reveal different narratives about the past.”
While merely being referred to in this excerpt as ‘homosexual activities’, the Dublin Castle Scandal was in reality far more than that.
An early triumph of then nascent Nationalist journalism, in 1884, the newspaper United Irishman newspaper blew the lid on a story involving high ranking British officials secretly engaging in gay sex with a wide variety of different men.
Further investigation, both private and public, unveiled an underground sex and prostitution ring operating right across Dublin.
The entire scandal resulted in prosecutions, resignations, and ultimately a massive PR victory for Irish Nationalists at the time, undermining the authority of British rule in minds both at home and abroad.
With this in mind, the notion of ‘reclaiming’ the history of the event is extremely ominous, especially when coming from a state-subsidized body.
Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality, to paint the victory of nationalists of old as something that requires reclaiming is greatly disturbing. The notion that a public body may be taking the side of corrupt British imperial officials over those who fought for Ireland goes beyond standard west-brit antics.
To value such recent moral miscellany over the historical struggle for the nation reveals a value shift away from the local and towards a rootless, globalist mindset. The mindset which has created numerous crises in Dublin and beyond, such as homelessness and power shortages.
What typifies this point is that the project this sculpture is part of, Sculpture Dublin, is costing the Irish taxpayer €600,000. Is there not a better way to spend public funds?
Perhaps not within a globalist mindset.