| We have come to realise that looking is not just looking but that looking is invested with identity - aesthetics are politics.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, A Reinhart J Kosuth F Gonalez-Torres Symptons of Interference, Conditions of Possibility, pub. the Academy Group 1994.
The Agreement is a vast sculptural work by Dublin-based artist Shane Cullen commissioned by Beaconsfield (Contemporary Art), London. The piece presents the 11,500 words of the British-Irish Peace Treaty of 1998, carved into 55 panels totalling some 67 meters in length.
In this visually arresting work Cullen gives the legalities within a highly charged document concrete form. Attracting diverse reactions in each city, The Agreement was exhibited and debated in Dublin, Derry/Londonderry, Belfast, London and Portadown during 2002 - 2004.
The exhibition of this commemorative artwork was animated by a series of public debates. Partners in each city developed the discussion around local concerns, with politicians, artists, historians, cultural commentators and journalists responding to the urgent issues raised by the work: conflict management and resolution, human rights, citizenship, art and politics, and the sustainability of peace. These debates are archived for future publication.
There's no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended. Ex-Senator George Mitchell, The Observer, Middle East Crisis, 14 April2002.
The Agreement is a cross-border partnership between:
- Arts Council of England
- Arts Council of Ireland
- Arts Council of Northern Ireland
- Beaconsfield, London
- City Arts Centre, Dublin
- City Council, Derry
- Cultural Relations Committee, Ireland
- DHL International
- Fire Design, Dublin
- Firestation Artists'Studios, Dublin
- Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
- Orchard Gallery, Derry/Londonderry
- Parliamentary All Party Irish in Britain Group
- Project, Dublin
- Treasury Holdings, Dublin
- Visiting Arts, UK
The Agreement set a collaborative precedent with financial support from the Arts Councils of England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Appropriately, this seems to be the first time that such a cross-border public collaboration in the visual arts has occurred.