Drawing Pasts and Futures Together: The Rainbow of Hope in Inner East Belfast
(Clark State Community College)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines a 2015 performance art piece that occurred on a sidewalk in East Belfast. It examines the chalk rainbow created during that performance as a mediating object and action, one which literally draws together Belfast's multiplicity of contested pasts and futures.
Paper long abstract:
In August 2015, a performance artist enacted a work on the sidewalks of East Belfast's Lower Newtownards Road. Bent double and carrying a child's plastic tub of sidewalk chalk, the artist drew a rainbow, six continuous lines leading from the doors of the local Church of Ireland to a recently deconsecrated church nearby. In the process of performing this work, entitled Rainbow of Hope, the artist passed by and interacted with numerous symbols and indicators of Belfast's contested pasts and futures. In this paper, I argue that these multiple temporalities collide with one another in urban space, indicating a visual contest for the past, future, and ultimately the present of this divided city. Furthermore, by traversing urban space in this extraordinary manner, I argue that Rainbow of Hope troubles simple distinctions between 'past' and 'future', literally drawing together multiple temporalities and multiple visions of the city within the seemingly simple image of the rainbow. This paper presents a detailed, ethnographically rich analysis of this event, examining the rainbow as a potent object and action used to mediate among and call into question the many available pasts and futures that inhabit and shape the urban pedestrian spaces of East Belfast. This analysis can, in turn, offer useful insights into the ways in which artists both participate in and contest competing urban temporalities at the level of the street and of the pedestrian.
Encounters between past and future: ethnographic approaches on urban renovation, redevelopment, gentrification and heritagization