Smashing Times May Newsletter:  Artists Against Fascism

Hello and welcome to the May 2024 edition of the Smashing Times Newsletter. Our theme this month is Artists Against Fascism.

Fascism is a political ideology and movement defined by extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, totalitarian ambitions, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, anti-communism, and the subordination of individual interests to ‘the good of the nation’. Fascism dominated many parts of central, southern, and eastern Europe between 1919–1945, with further adherents in western Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Latin America, and the Middle East. Europe’s first self-described fascist leader, the Italian Benito Mussolini, took the name of his party from the Latin word fasces. This referred to a bundle of rods with a projecting axe blade, which was used as a symbol of penal authority in ancient Rome. The fasces symbolised strength through unity: while a single rod is easily broken, a bundle is hard to break.

The most prominent fascist regime in history was Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. During World War II, the Nazis perpetrated some of the worst atrocities humankind has ever seen. The implementation of the Nazis’ racial policies culminated in the Holocaust: the genocide of six million Jews and 11 million others, including civilians from Poland, the Soviet Union, and Serbia; Sinti-Roma peoples; persons with disabilities; political opponents; and many more minorities.

Post-World War II iterations of fascism, generally referred to as neo-fascism, emerged in countries such as Italy, France, and Germany. Neo-fascist figures who came to, or maintained, power during this period include Juan Perón in Argentina and Augusto Pinochet in Chile, while General Franco’s Spanish regime lasted until 1975, and Portugal’s Estado Novo (New State) survived from 1933–1974.
Various right-wing populist and neo-fascist movements and individuals have benefitted from a surge of popularity in the 21st century. Notable examples are Vladimir Putin, who first came to power in Russia in 1999; Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil between 2019–2022; Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right, ultra-nationalist government of Israel, whose apartheid state is currently committing genocide in Gaza; and Donald Trump, United States President from 2017–21. Trump’s similarities to historical fascist figures include contempt for democratic values and the rule of law, demagoguery, appeals to racism, attacks on the legitimacy of the press, and incitements to mob violence, most famously his incitement of the mob that stormed the US Capitol in January 2021.
Art – work produced by creative skill and imagination – can be seen as inherently antithetical to the ideology and practice of fascism. Fascism tends towards violence and repression, art towards common understanding and expression. Fascism enforces homogeneity, while art recognises and celebrates the diversity of the world we live in. Art allows for the expression of the universal in the particular, while fascism imposes the particular on the universal. Art, through its power to inspire love and hope, insight and understanding, represents the open book of progress and new possibilities. Fascism, on the other hand, is the closed book of hatred, a dark, deadening, and regressive vision reflecting humankind’s most destructive traits.

Read on to see how this month’s artists responded to the theme. They include Featured Artist Ciarán O’Rourke, in addition to Hina Khan, Fabio Banfo, Felix Nussbaum, Fady Joudah, Mary Moynihan, and Mary O’Malley. Following this are Grants and Opportunities, News From the Network, 10 We Admire, and more.

Sleachta | Quotes

‘Racism may wear a new dress, buy a new pair of boots, but neither it nor its succubus twin fascism is new or can make anything new.’
         – Toni Morrison (1931–2019), ‘Racism and Fascism’

‘The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.’
         – Albert Camus (1913–1960), ‘Homage to an Exile’

‘Child / Of our time, our times have robbed your cradle. / Sleep in a world your final sleep has woken.’
         – Eavan Boland (1944–2020), ‘Child of Our Times’

Moltaí | Recommended

Charlie Chaplin, with a toothbrush moustache and wearing a shirt and tie, performs his famous speech in his film The Great Dictator.
Charlie Chaplin’s Speech From The Great Dictator
This famous speech from The Great Dictator, delivered by Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977) at the end of the film, which he also wrote and directed, is a poignant and impassioned plea for humanity and freedom. Chaplin’s character, a humble Jewish barber mistaken for the dictator of Tomainia, delivers a heartfelt message of hope, unity, and resilience in the face of tyranny and oppression. He emphasises the importance of love, kindness, and the innate goodness of people, urging us to reject greed and hatred. Watch this moving speech here (paired with music from the film Inception), which remains extremely relevant today.
This painting shows a woman wearing white and red and a Phrygian cap, and holding a scales. To her right is a lion. Written on a stone in the bottom right corner is the motto Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in Spanish.
Allegory of the Second Spanish Republic (1931) by Juan José Barreira (1888–1957)

Ay Carmela
‘Ay Carmela’ is a poignant and emblematic song from the Spanish Civil War that resonates with audiences to this day. It had originally been a nineteenth century folk song, ‘El Paso del Ebro’, commemorating the routing of Napoleonic troops during the Spanish War of Independence. Later, in the Spanish Civil War, the melody was reused with new lyrics by the Republican side. It has since become a symbol of resilience, resistance, and hope. The lyrics tell the story of Carmela, a young woman caught in the turmoil of war, and her journey through hardship and loss. ‘Ay Carmela’ continues to be sung at political rallies and cultural events, keeping alive the memory of those who fought against fascism for freedom and democracy. Click here to listen.
Detail from Peace, II by George Grosz, showing a grim, almost skeletal figure at the center of the composition, emerging from the ruins of a building and surrounded by rubble. In the background are raging fires.
Detail from Peace, II by George Grosz

Peace, II by George Grosz
Peace, II by George Grosz (1893–1959) is an apocalyptic and distinctly autobiographical painting portraying the toll of hatred and war on the individual. Grosz, a German, immigrated to America in 1933, as Nazis raided his studio in Berlin; his mother, who remained in Germany, died during the war. In this painting, the artist depicts himself as a survivor in an otherwise ruined world, creating a meditation on loss and an image of mourning for his mother, his homeland, and humanity as a whole. It is a haunting testament to the destruction wreaked by the fascism of Nazi Germany. To view the full painting, click here.

Art Inspires

Photo showing poet Ciarán O'Rourke standing in front a bright, cloud-mottled sky, with water and mountains in the distance.
Featured Artist: Ciarán O’Rourke

Our Featured Artist this month is poet Ciarán O’Rourke. O’Rourke was born in Dublin in 1991. His first collection, The Buried Breath, was highly commended by the Forward Foundation in 2019. His second collection, Phantom Gang, was longlisted for the 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize. Both are published by The Irish Pages Press. Ciarán blogs at Ragpicker Poetry.

Ciarán’s three poems below delve into violent episodes from our past and present. His cogent descriptions are complemented by an extremely disciplined application of language, his lines buoyed by a genuine empathy for all victims of political violence. ‘The Communards’ assumes the perspective of Louise Michel, an important figure in the short-lived 1871 Paris Commune, which was brutally suppressed by the French Army. ‘The Innocent’ is inspired by the 16th-century painting Massacre of the Innocents, while ‘Fragments of a Litany’ brings us to the present day, and to arguably the most devastating atrocity of our times.

The Communards

After Louise Michel (1830–1905)

Overnight, the butcher-generals of the emperor
lined up in service to the state, without ever
having shifted from their view. They revelled coldly
in the killing of the Communards: the street-
redeeming women as they carried off the guillotine
for fuel; the youthful, hungry medicals who bore
the massacred and wounded through the smoke.
In the name of peace, they cannon-balled my people
where they stood, the capital a chopping block.
History forgets the dead, forever yearning onwards,
but the voices linger after in the air. I still recall
the rebels, singing as they died. The world
is what belongs to all; can no more be divided
than the light. To bring me to repentance for my sins,
Versailles up-packed and ported me away,
on the Virginie, a stately ship that sweltered
like a cage. For months, my fellow inmates
witnessed nothing but the sky, the dark,
impassive ocean swell, with now and then
a distant sail, a flickering of white, on the trembling
horizon. Sometimes a rain of luminescent stars
made constellations in the waves; I wondered
at the brightness of the black. By day, we watched
the albatrosses, elegant and gentle, circling the ship.
The keener sailors liked to bait these poor,
majestic birds. When snared, the calloused hands
would hook them by the beak, and hang them,
writhing quietly in pain, their wide, black-
lidded eyes expanding, agonised, till death.
Kinder modes of murder were deferred, for fear
the pricely whiteness of the feathers
would be stained: a parable of modern man.
I could have wept, to see such brilliant creatures
soaring overhead. I feel it once again, as if
repeated in a dream. The prisoners were silent.
We kept the flag of pity, furled around our hearts.
A painting depicting 16th-century villagers in wintertime desperately attempting to protect their infants from being slaughtered by soldiers.
Massacre of the Innocents, a 16th-century painting by either Pieter Bruegel the Elder or his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Thought to be the original version, there is disagreement upon which of the Brueghels painted it. The painting transposes the Biblical account of the Massacre of the Innocents to a winter scene in the Netherlands in the prelude to the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule.

The Innocent

After Pieter Bruegel

Beyond the fray, in frozen light,
the blue geese yodel hoarsely,
careening toward the sun.

Lowly winter
burnishes the day: a little drift
of crows from tree to tree,

the snowed-on roofs
a tidy white, brightening
the bricks beneath

to red – a ruddy sheen.
At the brilliant
centre of the scene,

the Alban Duke, on horseback,
calmly waits, a glinting
troupe of lances at his beck, 
for the careless carnage
round him to abate –
the newborns dead, his duty done,

the wailing, puckered villagers
abashed – and aftermath
to settle in its stead:

a sigh of vacant doorways,
under every
shaken gable, peace…

all this to come.
For now, in the sky
above his patient head,

the godly banner
dances in the breeze,
gold and rippled crimson,
as the massacre unfolds.

Fragments of a Litany

Gaza, 2023

Grieve with the butchered gods of love
for Layan al-Baz, the young, the strong,

her soft arms cut by shrapnel,
her wounded leg a stump.

May the world record unquietly
the wordless eyes of Abdul,

of Kenza, and Karam, who buried
their mothers in a barren yard.

And remember the nameless orphan, too,
removed from the rubble of a screaming ward,

blood in the mouth, her vision blurred.
Sow seeds, oh poem, for the baby Salma,

and her shock-haired sister, Alma, twin,
mewling by the roadside when the brutal rains abate.

‘Fragments of a Litany’ previously appeared in the magazine Cassandra Voices.
Roots by Hina Khan depicts a brown and yellow landscape, beneath which stretch cracks in the paper, resembling roots.
Roots by Hina Khan

Mixed media. 122 x 274 cm

In creating Roots, visual artist Hina Khan drew particular inspiration from the poem ‘Dawn of Freedom’ by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. ‘This poem resonates with me,’ says Hina, ‘because it bears witness to the 1947 Jammu massacres. In November 1947, thousands of Muslims were massacred in the Jammu region by mobs and paramilitaries led by the army of Dogra ruler Hari Singh, the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The roots in this painting symbolise the complications of bearing witness, in the present moment, to the horrors of the past.’

Here is an excerpt from ‘Dawn of Freedom’, translated from the Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali: 

‘These tarnished rays, this night-smudged light — 
This is not that Dawn for which, 
ravished with freedom, 
we had set out in sheer longing, 
so sure that somewhere in its desert 
the sky harbored a final haven for the stars.’

Hina Khan is an Irish-Pakistani artist. Her work has been exhibited in Dublin, Laois, Cork, and Mayo. Visit her Instagram profile here.
Fabio Banfo, wearing a black sweatshirt, gives the camera an attentive look, his hand raised to his bearded chin. Behind him is a cream wall.
Black Stars by Fabio Banfo

Black Stars was produced by MaMiMò Theatre Center of Reggio Emilia between 2021–23 in multiple theatres in Italy. It was awarded Best dramaturgy at the 2022 Doit Festival 2022 in Rome.

The play is inspired by the story of Osvaldo Valenti and Luisa Ferida, two famous actors of Italian cinema of the 1930s, who were lovers. Their story is intertwined with that of the Koch Gang, ferocious hunters of political prisoners, who, in the secret cells of the infamous Villa Triste in Milan, tortured and killed a huge number of victims, while on the upper floors alcohol and cocaine-fuelled parties and orgies took place. Osvaldo and Luisa would pay a very high price for having frequented that place.

The excerpt below was translated by Simona Pala from the Italian.
Osvaldo and Luisa are in a living room of Villa Trieste.
OSVALDO: We will die soon.
LUISA: How do you know that?
OSVALDO: Pietro Koch wants to kill us.
OSVALDO: I don’t know. That’s what he does with the people he doesn’t trust. He makes them disappear.
LUISA: But he just gave you a crucial assignment.
OSVALDO: That’s the reason why I know it.
LUISA: I don’t understand.
OSVALDO: He is looking for an excuse to accuse us of treason. Everybody saw me talking to the prisoner Pagano, they were spying on me from the windows.
LUISA: How do you know that?
OSVALDO: Pagano made me realise that. He asked me why he made us go outside to talk.
LUISA: But he can’t prove it!
OSVALDO: Out there maybe, but here the laws don’t apply, we are under his jurisdiction.
LUISA: That’s impossible.
OSVALDO: The problem won’t be dying, but what they are going to do to us before that.
LUISA: Do you think that they…
LUISA: I want to know.
OSVALDO: Luisa, no.
LUISA: Tell me, or I swear to God that I will go and ask Koch himself what they are going to do to me!
OSVALDO: They will take turns, and they will do to you anything that will come into their minds.
LUISA: I have seen one of those women, the last time I was here, we were on the stairs, and she was coming back from the interrogation. She was devastated. She gave me a spiteful glance, as if I was…What have they done to that poor woman?
OSVALDO:  In the showers, the secretary
LUISA:  Angela Cimini?
OSVALDO:  Yes. Alba Cimini is the cruellest. The partisans have killed her husband. So now she is taking revenge… in the showers, with a broom, with the stick, she…
LUISA: And yet you have brought me back here…
OSVALDO:  Luisa.
LUISA: Knowing that…
OSVALDO:  Luisa, stop it.
LUISA: You brought me here with you…
OSVALDO:  That’s enough! You knew what they do here. You knew it even when you took the cocaine that Koch offered you. That’s why you have come here. I didn’t tell you anything to protect you…
LUISA: I’ve already told you that you must stop protecting me
OSVALDO: We are screwed.
LUISA: Yes, big time.
OSVALDO: The biggest screw up ever.
LUISA: They are screwed too, though.
OSVALDO: The prisoners who are here?
LUISA: They are even more screwed than us.
OSVALDO: I have asked you not to talk about them.
LUISA: Why don’t you want to think about them?
OSVALDO: They scare me.
LUISA: More than Koch?
OSVALDO: It’s different. I can predict what Koch will do. I can read him. But with them, I can’t. While I was talking to Pagano before… That man is a mystery to me. Despite everything they have done to him, despite not having a single spot on his body that hasn’t been beaten up, he hasn’t lost…
LUISA: His dignity?
OSVALDO: His trust.
LUISA: In himself?
OSVALDO:  In human beings. There is something unsettling, almost inhuman, in maintaining your trust while being held prisoner in those cells, knowing that someone is being beaten over your head, hearing the screams, the blows, the falls, the slaps, the punches, broken bones and the entire range of laments that the human voice is capable of making, knowing that the next time the door opens and the neon light comes on, your name could be called, and, despite all that, being able to look a stranger in the eyes and say: ‘I trust you, Valenti.’
LUISA: That’s what he told you?
LUISA: Have I ever seen him?
OSVALDO: No, how could you.
LUISA: While you were talking about him, I could see his face.
OSVALDO: You were just picturing him.
LUISA: No, I could see him as if he was standing right here, in front of us. And I could also see all the others.
OSVALDO: You don’t even know who they are.
LUISA: There is no need to know a man’s name to imagine him inside a cell.
OSVALDO: You have never been down there.
LUISA: Of course I have, and you know it. Stop protecting me.
OSVALDO: Protect you? From what?
LUISA: From the truth.
OSVALDO: Luisa the only truth now is that we are here waiting to die. There is nothing else.
LUISA: You let me do it.
OSVALDO: I don’t understand.
LUISA: You have to go down a few steep steps. The ceiling is low. On the right there are the showers, where you torture them with alternating jets of freezing and boiling water.
OSVALDO: I have never tortured anyone.
LUISA: On the left there are the cells, packed with bodies. The stench mixed with the smell of blood is unbearable. I am wearing only very light veils. My feet slide over the water and other wet fluids that flow slowly towards the drainage. I can barely see anything, there is only a feeble light coming from the window bars that open to the garden, at ground level. I don’t know how or why I do it, but I start to undress.
OSVALDO: That never happened, Luisa.
LUISA: And I feel beautiful. Beautiful. As if beauty was the only thought to hold onto, before loosing myself and never coming back. I am beautiful until the last veil falls. I am beautiful and I am dancing, following a music that was never played, as if I was born that same day, for those eyes. They are looking at me. I can’t stop feeling them staring at me. They are on me. I can feel those eyes here, under my skin, I can feel them blink, right here, touch it, you can feel those eyeballs staring in the dark. They are here, trying to see through my skin. Inside of that cell there is that man who is not even a man anymore, he is a shapeless mass silently groaning. And near him there is our son, he is just standing there wearing the clothes we bought for his burial.
OSVALDO: (Shaking her) Luisa!
LUISA: My son saw me doing those things, Osvaldo.
Fabio Banfo has worked between Italy and South America (Chile and Argentina) as an actor, playwright, director, and pedagogue. He has received several awards for his plays and performances.
In this painting by Felix Nussbaum, replete with drab shades of gray and brown, we see the truncated branches of trees and a narrow boarded alleyway. Despite the atmosphere of menace and death, the ashen figure of a young man in the foreground (his expression stoic, even calm) seems to promise redemption. He points to his naked torso in the characteristic gesture of a martyr. A faceless, doll-like figure pursues him from behind with a megaphone.

Oil on canvas. 95 x 61 cm

Loneliness by Felix Nussbaum

Text by Féilim James

A central feature of fascism is its emphasis on racial hierarchy. Fascists see their own racial group as superior to others. Often, they clutch at pseudo-science to bolster their argument; at other times religion, or culture. They see their own customs as sophisticated and intelligent compared to the primitive, crude ways of the outgroup, minority, other.

However racial hierarchy is justified, this element of fascism has also been present in systems of government which claim to be democratic. Examples include the racial discrimination of African-Americans in the United States; the heavy restriction of Black suffrage during apartheid in South Africa; and the persecution of Muslims and the Rohingya people in Myanmar which continued during its years of democracy, and into the present day. And of course there is Israel’s ongoing oppression of, and apartheid against, the people of Palestine. (‘We are fighting against human animals,’ declared Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant back in October, referring to their current campaign in Gaza.)

When it comes to the consequences of institutionalised racial hierarchy, we don’t need to speculate. Past and present events tell us plenty.

One of those events was the Holocaust, during which the painter Felix Nussbaum (1904–1944) was one of six million Jewish people killed by Nazi Germany. German-Jewish Nussbaum painted Loneliness while hiding with his wife in Brussels in 1942. The Jewish Museum Berlin describes the painting as follows: ‘As with many of Felix Nussbaum’s later works, Loneliness‘s color palette consists of drab shades of gray and brown. Although the truncated branches of the trees and the narrow boarded alleyway create an atmosphere of menace and death, the ashen figure of a young man in the foreground seems to promise redemption. He points to his naked torso in the characteristic gesture of a martyr. A faceless, doll-like figure pursues him from behind with a megaphone.’ This figure could of course be viewed as Hitler, the inhuman demagogue chasing the young man down the path of oblivion.

Viewing the painting autobiographically, it is a pursuit which Hitler would eventually win. Two years after painting this piece, Nussbaum and his wife Felka Platek were found hiding in an attic by German armed forces. They were deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered – tragically, just a few months before the British liberation of Brussels in September 1944.

Art depicting the human toll of a genocide in real time is of huge importance, not just for its rarity. It offers us an insight into the emotional, physical, and existential agony of the struggle to evade the tide of annihilation. It shows human beings being human even in the most horrific of circumstances, turning to art for comfort and solace, or to ensure some fragment of themselves survives the destruction that beckons them. Like the many other works he so admirably produced during such dark times, this surreal, enigmatic painting of Nussbaum’s – strange, bleak, moving, true – allowed the artist to be said in a world that refused his very right to be.

A black-and-white headshot of Fady Joudah in a horizontally striped sweatshirt.
Photo credit: Cybele Knowles

‘[…]’ (‘Why don’t you denounce…’)’ by Fady Joudah
Why don’t you denounce
what you ask me to denounce.
We can do it together on the count of three.
Or you should go first

on account of your obsession
with my going first, your grand inquisitor role
isn’t for doves, your better angel
is calling you

to let go
of holding on and to hold on
to letting go: Your misguided vengeance,
your unequaled pain,
why on my body?
What about the body you can’t beat up?
Why anybody

including you?
Listen, what you can’t smell
is the taste of all things that come to pass
which are all things.
Listen, ears
are erogenous.
I’ll lick your ears against revenge.

This poem appears in […] by Fady Joudah (Out-Spoken Press, 2024).

Palestinian-American poet Fady Joudah has published six other collections of poems:
The Earth in the Attic; Alight; Textu, a book-long sequence of short poems whose meter is based on cellphone character count; Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance; and, most recently, Tethered to Stars. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Arab American Book Award, and the Jackson Poetry Prize. Click here for more information.
View of a dramatic cloudy sky from the top of the Panthéon in Paris.
Panthéon, a photographic artwork by Mary Moynihan, April 2024. A view of Paris from the top of the Panthéon, Paris.
‘Notes From a Visit to Paris’ by Mary Moynihan
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.

         – Marie Curie

Mary Moynihan, writer and Smashing Times Artistic Director, is currently visiting cultural sites in France and Italy, and meeting with partner arts organisations across Europe. While in Paris, Mary visited a number of cultural sites including the Louvre, the Panthéon, the Centre Culturel Irlandais (Irish Cultural Centre), the iconic Shakespeare and Company independent bookshop nestled in the shadow of Notre-Dame, and the beautiful Jardin de Luxemburg. Mary is currently researching a new arts exhibition for Smashing Times to premiere in 2025, provisionally titled Irish in Resistance, which aims to remember and celebrate the stories of Irish people involved in the Resistance and in Escape Lines during World War II. As part of her research, Mary visited the Panthéon in France which is currently hosting an exhibition remembering the lives of members of the French Resistance from World War II.
I recently visited the Panthéon in France which is located on the Sainte-Geneviève mountain in the heart of the Latin Quarter in Paris. In the past, a panthéon was a place where Gods were worshipped. Today, the Panthéon in Paris holds the remains of numerous French citizens and is the last resting place for writers, scientists, generals, and politicians who have contributed to the history of France in some way. The building was originally built as the church of Sainte-Geneviève and became a Panthéon during the French Revolution. The building has oscillated between these two functions throughout the 19th century, and today is a national necropolis dedicated to remembering and honouring the lives and contributions of both men and women to the French nation.
In addition to remembering the lives of French citizens, the Panthéon is home to a unique cultural programme with permanent artworks on display, alongside a current, temporary exhibition remembering the lives of members of the French Resistance during World War II. The latter focuses on Missak Manouchian, an Armenian-born poet and French Resistance fighter, and Mélinée Assadourian, an Armenian-born writer and member of the French Resistance, as well as several of their comrades.
The Nave
As I entered the Panthéon, I was immediately struck by the height and depth of the space. It is vast. I took my time to soak up the beautiful, imposing architecture of the nave or central part of the building, and to enjoy the numerous artworks, including wall murals and sculptures, that illustrate the story of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.
A permanent art installation has been installed in the nave of the church, created by German painter and sculpture Anselm Kiefer and French composer Pascal Dusapin. This exhibition was commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron, and its creation was the first time in almost a century that new artworks were installed in the Panthéon. The installation was launched during a Remembrance Day ceremony to mark the entry of the French writer and World War I veteran Maurice Genevoix (1890–1980) into the Panthéon on November 11, 2020. The installation was made in tribute to Genevoix, who wrote the celebrated book Ceux de 14, based on his experiences of fighting in the trenches during World War I.
The book served as inspiration for Kiefer’s installation in the Panthéon, which consists of six large glass and steel showcase structures spread out in the space. Anselm was inspired by Genevoix’s quote on ‘nature as a beautiful counterpart to evil’ and our ability as humans and artists to create poetry out of misery and destruction. The six showcase structures are filled with transcriptions of phrases by Genevoix and other writers, including the Romanian-French poet Paul Celan and the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, and items including rusted barbed wire, cement, lead books, red poppy flowers, golden earns of corn rising out of ruins, and worn-out bicycles, all drawing correlations between the destruction and misery of war versus the beauty of life and nature.
Mary Moynihan sits on a bench outside the Shakespeare and Company independent bookstore in Paris. She faces to her right, laughing.
Mary Moynihan at the Shakespeare and Company independent bookstore in Paris

After viewing the artworks, and before heading to the Crypt downstairs, I was mesmerised by the swinging motion of Foucault’s pendulum located in the centre of the nave. Foucault’s pendulum is a scientific instrument that consists of a hefty object suspended from a long string and can swing in any direction. It is a simple experiment to demonstrate the earth’s rotation, originally named after 19th-century French astronomer and physicist Léon Foucault. The pendulum in the Panthéon is a sphere of brass and lead, painted bright gold and weighing 2kg. It is suspended from the dome of the Panthéon on steel wire 67 metres long. I found that watching this huge golden sphere swinging gently through the air had a calming effect on me, as if my own energy was directly connected to the earth’s rotation.
A sound installation is played in the space at regular interviews. This is created by Pascal Dusapin and composed of a musical ensemble of singers, both male and female, recorded by the French Chamber choir at the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall. The soundscape features the resonance of the names of 15,000 soldiers (representative of all those who died in the first World War), with the names read and recorded by French actors Florence Darel and Xavier Gallais. As you walk through the Panthéon, you can hear the names spoken and echoing through different parts of this huge building. The overall exhibition evokes a sense of mourning and loss from the devastating impact of World War I, intermixed with seeds of hope coming through the dirt and destruction.
Kiefer states: ‘Genevoix is a poet, and yet how do you make a poem about this? The cold, the mud, the lack of sleep, the death, the massacres. From this horror he has drawn a superb book whose elements are affection, brotherhood, absurdity, and the consoling beauty of nature. In spite of the subject he cannot – one cannot – avoid beauty. Can the artist prevent evil, the worst horror under his hands, from becoming beauty? Because for an artist, a poet, a writer, there is nothing he cannot use as a material. It is a paradox.’
The Crypt
The crypt underneath holds the remains of citizens honoured by the French state, including the writers Voltaire, Emile Zola, and Alexandre Dumas; the Genevan-born philosopher, writer, and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau; and the Polish-French physicist and chemist Marie Curie. More recent inclusions are those of the French politician and activist Simone Veil, and the dancer and singer Joséphine Baker. Some of these citizens are buried in the crypt while others are remembered through the presence of a cenotaph or inscription.
I found it very moving to visit the burial place of Simone Veil (1927–2017), an extraordinary French lawyer, politician, and feminist; a Holocaust survivor; and the first female president of the European Union. Simone died in 2017 and after hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions to have Veil’s remains transferred to the Panthéon, her remains were transferred there for re-burial in 2018. ‘Veil is only the fourth woman to be honoured in her own right among the 72 men in the imposing building, over the door of which is written “The nation thanks its great men”.’’[1]
In 2022, I created a short film called The Shoah, which I adapted from a speech by Simone titled ‘The Shoah: A Survivor’s Memory – The World’s Legacy’. The film is a creative re-imagining of Simone remembering her survival from the concentration and death camps during World War II, and her desire for peace. As part of the work, I researched the life of Simone and found her to be an inspiring figure in relation to equality and peace.
Simone was 16 years old when she and her family were deported from France to concentration camps, where most of her family perished. Simone and her two sisters survived, while her parents and brother died in the camps. Simone dedicated her life to the fight for equality and freedom, and remembers how, in the camps, women showed an immense capacity for resistance and helped each other in generous, unselfish ways. After the war, Simone became a French lawyer, politician, and Minister for Health, where she presided over the first bill legalising abortion. She has always fought to defend the rights of women, as well as prisoners and children. In 1979, Simone became the first President of the European Parliament and was committed to a Europe of solidarity, in which atrocities against civilians, such as what she saw happen during World War II, can never happen again. This is particularly salient in view of the devastating wars happening in the world today, and the genocide taking place in Palestine.

To read on, please click here.

Mary Moynihan, MA, she/her, is an award-winning author of novels, poetry, films, and plays, and a creator of art and photography. She is Artistic Director of Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality and Artistic Curator for the annual Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival.

In this black-and-white image, poet Mary O'Malley sits at a table in a cafe, an open book before her. She is staring intently at the camera.

‘Citizen’ by Mary O’Malley

The small man reels across the street,
walks the careful steps of a robot.
He is afraid that one night soon
he will fall over and into the gutter
to rust, unless he takes action.
He goes home to his room:
Invasion, he writes. Do not be fooled.
They are taking over our once proud nation.

All the dark matter of the universe
will fly to his tweet and coalesce.
The people march and light bonfires.
Driving through, faces scan for non-believers,
small eyes glint in the headlights.
The river threatens to overflow.
It teems with sleek brown bodies,
squeaking hate.

This poem is included in Mary’s upcoming book The Shark Nursery, Carcanet, June 2024.

Mary O’Malley is an Irish poet. A member of Aosdána, she has won a number of awards in Ireland and the US, including a Hennessey Award and the Heimboldt Award.


Nuacht Smashing Times | Smashing Times News

Smashing Times Company Manager Freda Manweiler, wearing blue jeans and a black jacket, making a presentation alongside a grey-haired gentleman
Company Manager Freda Manweiler presenting on Smashing Times projects as part of the EURORESO General Assembly

Smashing Times Travel

Smashing Times staff have been on the move over the past month. From 1–6 April, Ciara Hayes, Carmen Ortiz Victorino, William Caughey, and Hina Khan were in Perugia, Italy for training for the Theatre Trails project, which aims to combat social exclusion and offer quality learning opportunities to all citizens. More on this project here.

Then, from 23–28 April, Company Manager Freda Manweiler, Carmen Ortiz Victorino, and William Caughey were in Belgrade, Serbia to take part in a workshop and training meeting as part of the TREES project, which aims to increase the environmental awareness of the public and to stimulate its stance in issues related to climate change. Read more about this project here. While in Belgrade, Freda also attended the EURORESO General Assembly on 23 April, during which the awards committee presented the winners of the 2023 EURORESO award to the Roma Project, run by the Irish organisation Cairde. Read more on this project here.
The Smashing Times Centre for the Arts and Equality logo, with a red circular symbol containing a figure with upheld arms.
Self-Advocacy Theatre Workshops

Smashing Times’ Carmen Ortiz Victorino has been facilitating weekly WALK theatre workshops on self-advocacy. These workshops, led by Smashing Times in collaboration with WALK, and coordinated by WALK’s Vanessa Martin, give voice to people with disabilities in the community. In these self-advocacy sessions, which take place each Monday in the Green Kitchen, Walkinstown, Dublin, participants discover what they want to fight for, as they each come up with an individual project. For example, one of the girls who was rejected from her prom is creating an inclusive dance night, welcoming all groups at risk of marginalisation. The process will culminate in a performance by participants at both a self-advocacy conference where they will speak up and ask for their rights, and at Smashing Times’ Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival 2024. Visit the Walk website here.
A maroon graphic displaying the text 10 We Admire in white.

Deichniúr Thar Barr | 10 We Admire

In this month’s theme 10 We Admire, we celebrate the creative spirit of artists who courageously confronted, or confront, fascism through their work. From visual art to music, literature, and performance, these artists use their platforms to challenge oppression, advocate for justice, and inspire change. Through their creativity and resilience, they remind us of the importance of speaking out and standing up against fascism in all its forms.
Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), a German-American historian and philosopher, left a profound impact on political theory in the 20th century. Her extensive body of work delves into crucial themes like power, politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. Arendt’s examination of these subjects, particularly her exploration of how ordinary individuals become participants in totalitarian systems, remains highly influential. Arendt’s analysis of power is exemplified in her study of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, where she coined the phrase ‘the banality of evil’. This concept challenged prevailing notions of evil as something extraordinary, instead highlighting how it can manifest in mundane, bureaucratic actions.

Ska-P, a Spanish ska punk band formed in 1994, is known for its energetic music and strong political stance. The band’s lyrics often reflect their anti-establishment views, leading them to be categorised as anarcho-communist or anti-fascist. This political stance is evident in their songs, which critique social injustices, political corruption, and capitalist exploitation. This resilience and dedication to their music and message have endeared them to fans around the world. ‘El Vals del Obrero’ (‘The Worker’s Waltz’) is one of Ska-P’s most iconic songs, serving as an anthem for the working class. The lyrics convey a message of pride in labour and the importance of workers’ rights.
Artist Kara Walker stands in front of a black-and-white wall, wearing black and lightly smiling.
Contemporary visual artist Kara Walker

Kara Walker

Kara Walker (born 1969) is a contemporary American visual artist known for her powerful explorations of race, gender, and politics. Her work often delves into themes of violence, sexuality, and anti-fascism, challenging viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about American history and society. One of Walker’s most famous pieces, ‘Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On)’ from 2000, uses silhouetted characters against coloured light projections, evoking the style of 1930s animated films. This work, like much of her art, critiques the romanticised narratives of the antebellum South, particularly as portrayed in the film Gone With the Wind.
John Heartfield

John Heartfield (1891–1968) was a pioneering German visual artist who used his art as a powerful political tool. His photomontages, in particular, became iconic anti-Nazi and anti-fascist statements. Heartfield created over 240 political art pieces that critiqued fascism and Nazism, often using satire and subversion to undermine their propaganda. One of Heartfield’s most famous works, Adolf, the Superman, published in the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ) in 1932, used a montaged X-ray to reveal gold coins in Adolf Hitler’s oesophagus. His art was not only visually striking but also deeply impactful, serving as an effective form of resistance against the rise of fascism in Germany.
Hannah Ryggen
Hannah Ryggen (1894–1970) is a unique figure in the story of modern art, particularly within the Nordic countries. Trained as a painter, she became a weaver in order to engage with the folk traditions of her native Norway. Yet Ryggen shied away neither from the experiments of twentieth century art nor the horrors of twentieth century politics, producing stark modernist murals. Because of the traditional storytelling role of textile art, Ryggen found it effective for composing narrative works that expressed her anti-fascist and anti-colonialist views. Using her work to depict everything from the Italian invasion of Ethiopia to the Nazi occupation of Norway, Ryggen showed that folk art was not stuck in the past, but had a role to play in processing and reacting to the traumas of the present.
In this black-and-white photo, curly-haired Barbara Kruger, wearing a leather jacket, stares at the camera with intensity.
Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger (born 1945) is an American conceptual artist known for her bold, text-based works that challenge cultural norms and power structures. Her distinctive style features black-and-white photographs overlaid with striking, declarative captions in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed text. Kruger’s work often addresses themes of consumerism, identity, gender, and sexuality, using language as a powerful tool to provoke thought and discussion. Kruger’s work is deeply political and often confrontational, aiming to disrupt conventional ways of thinking and seeing.
Ayax y Prok

Ayax y Prok, a rap duo from Granada, Spain, consists of twin brothers Ayax and Adrián Pedrosa Hidalgo (born 1991). Their music is known for its social commentary and references to historical events and figures. ‘A palabras nazis, oídos rojos’ (‘To Nazi words, red ears’) is one of Ayax y Prok’s most famous songs, addressing issues of power, injustice, and anti-fascism. The song urges a rejection of fascism, encouraging listeners to open their ears to the injustices and atrocities committed under fascist regimes. Through their music, Ayax y Prok continue to advocate for social change and justice, making them prominent figures in the Spanish rap scene.
Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) was a multifaceted Italian artist, known for his contributions to poetry, film, literature, and cultural critique. Initially known for his advocacy of cultural conservatism, Pasolini’s views evolved towards Marxism after World War II. He criticised the Italian bourgeoisie and decried what he saw as the Americanisation and cultural degradation of Italian society. As a filmmaker, Pasolini was known for his graphic portrayals of taboo subjects, often juxtaposed with socio-political commentary. Pasolini’s life ended tragically in 1975 when he was abducted, tortured, and murdered; the circumstances of his death remain murky. Pasolini is remembered as a significant figure in European literature and cinema, known for his uncompromising artistic vision and provocative social critique.
Singer and activist Miriam Makeba, bare-skinned except for some traditional African jewellery, looks to her left at the camera with an expression of dour intensity.
Singer and activist Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba
Zenzile Miriam Makeba (1932–2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer and activist celebrated for her powerful voice and unwavering commitment to social justice. She became an icon of her country’s struggle against apartheid and racism. Makeba’s music, deeply rooted in the Xhosa traditions of her homeland, resonated around the world, especially her afropop hit ‘Pata Pata,’ which captivated audiences and climbed international music charts. Beyond her musical talents, Makeba used her platform to speak out against injustice, becoming a prominent voice for civil rights. Makeba’s legacy is one of resilience, artistry, and a tireless dedication to the fight for freedom and equality.
Käthe Kollwitz

Painter, printmaker, and sculptor Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) established herself in an art world dominated by men by developing an aesthetic vision centred on women and the working class. While her naturalistic style appeared out of touch in an era that witnessed the birth of abstraction, her depictions of universal human experiences were also reflective of her time. The loss of her son during World War I, for instance, led to a lifelong exploration of the subject of mourning. The detailed quality of drawing matched her concerns with depicting the stark reality of war and its victims. Kollwitz’s compassion for those in need constitutes a subtle subversion of fascism’s politics of hatred, and has given her continued international renown.

Nuacht ón nGréasán | News From the Network

A poster for the performance titled The Ireland We Dreamed Of, comprising a dark-orange rectangle, at the bottom of which is a black-and-white photograph of a nun leading a group of girls down a sunny street. The girls are dressed for their first communion, presumably, while the girl nearest the nun is simply a white silhouette. In the background to the right are two onlooking young women, their faces scraped out.

The Ireland We Dreamed Of

The Ireland We Dreamed Of is a new performance by visual artist Sinéad McCann in collaboration with sociologist Dr Louise Brangan. In Catholic Ireland, moral purity and virtue had become the national motifs. The problem was, you can’t claim purity if you know otherwise. The dirt and sin that defied it had to be scrubbed from Ireland’s national consciousness.

The Ireland We Dreamed Of brings the audience through a series of unsettling dreamscapes. This powerful performance explores what it was like to live with the unbearable weight of self-denial, how silence seeped into homes, and the bravery it took to break out from this world of secrets.

Performed by Vitor Bassi, Kate Finegan, and Fiona Quilligan. Written by Louise Brangan and Sinéad McCann. Directed by Sinéad McCann. Book your tickets for this performance here, which takes place in the Main Space of Smock Alley Theatre from 2–4 May.

A colourful poster for ZID Theater's ExploreZ Festival, depicting 15 individuals standing in a line, looking out seriously. Behind them is a misty blend of blue and yellow shapes.

ZID Theater’s ExploreZ Festival

From 7–18 May, ZID Theater presents the ninth edition of the multidisciplinary international ExploreZ Festival at various locations in Amsterdam. Enjoy a rich mix of theatre, music, dance, workshops, and more, all centred around the theme of ‘Change’. Amidst the deluge of online and offline information on the effects of climate change, social relations, and political unrest, how do we deal with it? Through the axis of art and culture, participants, creators, and visitors of the festival are actively invited to reflect on their own position within these issues.

Artists from different corners of the world and many up-and-coming talents will present their work at the festival. Ten performances from countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Brazil, and Croatia will be presented. The premiere of ‘WATER’ and ‘Proud to be Roma’ are among the highlights. For more information, please click here.

A poster for the Dream Theater Project, showing three men taking part in a theatre game. Two caped men escort a third man away, the latter wearing a pirate hat, his hands bound.

Image: Krzysztof Tusiewicz

LinkedIn Webinars for Dream Theater Project

The Dream Theater Project, run by Centro Diego Fabbri in association with Poland’s Grodzki Theater and others (see below), incorporates social inclusion and new learning opportunities in drama therapy. Co-financed by the EU’s Erasmus+ Program, the project has two main objectives: supporting psychiatric patients in gaining social competence, and strengthening the staff of the cultural and medical care sector by organising training courses and developing and disseminating educational tools.

Concerted efforts are being made to disseminate the results and achievements of the project on a large scale. Two Linkedin webinars will be organised in May and June 2024 to engage stakeholders at a transnational level. The first one will address cultural operators, while the second will involve healthcare workers. The dates will be announced in due course on the project web page.

The Dream Theater Project partners are Centro Diego Fabbri, Italy (lead); Landspitali University Hospital, Iceland; Fundacion Intras, Spain; Association Kulturanova Udruzenje, Serbia; and Azienda Unita Sanitaria Locale Della Romagna, Italy.

Six individuals, comprising men and women, carry a smiling, spreadeagled man during a performance. In the background, others watch on.

‘Les Liaisons Joyeuses’ by Théâtre & Réconciliation

‘Les Liaisons Joyeuses’, run by Théâtre & Réconciliation, gathers together citizens on stage who normally do not meet. They are people from Brussels, from different neighbourhoods and backgrounds, of various nationalities and cultures. This year, it comprises 60 individuals. They talk about stereotypes, love, education, disability, war, resistance, having papers or being undocumented, life paths, denounced paths, and laws that hinder. They discuss their differences, their similarities, their identity. Never have they felt so close to one another. Never have they been so close to you. You have probably never seen them, never heard them, these people, these others unlike you. In the jargon, this is called social cohesion.

The three performances, which can be booked here, take place as follows:

  • 8:30pm on May 3, 2024 at La Tricoterie, 158 Theodore Verhaegen Street, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 8pm on May 4, 2024 at Theatre de la Vie, 45 Traversière Street, 1210 Saint-Josse, Brussels, Belgium
  • 5:30pm on May 5, 2024, in Schaerbeek, 109 Josaphat Street, 1030 Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium

The non-profit organisation Théâtre & Réconciliation (T&R) stages shows and workshops which bring people together and raise awareness. T&R uses the art of theatre for peacebuilding, human rights, trauma management, social cohesion, and the transformation of community conflicts. Read more about them here.

Deontais agus Deiseanna | Grants and Opportunities

A black-and-white image of person on a silver Apple laptop, their right hand on the mouse, their left raised in the foreground.
For individuals and organisations in the arts and human rights
Arts and Disability Connect

Arts and Disability Connect, administered by Arts & Disability Ireland, is currently accepting applications from individual artists with disabilities. This scheme aims to support artists in developing their practice, connecting with arts organisations and professionals, and realising ambitious projects. The deadline is 4pm on 7 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Arts Council: The Touring of Work Scheme

The Touring of Work Scheme (Round 1) invites applications for proposals seeking funding to support the touring of work across all artforms and arts practice areas. Tours must take place in the Republic of Ireland and start between January–December 2025. The deadline is 5.30pm on 9 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
AIC: Artist Mentoring Award 2024
The Artist Mentoring Award sits within a suite of offerings under the Artist in the Community Scheme (AIC). It aims to offer capacity-building and arts practice development for collaborative, socially engaged artists. There will be five artist mentors and five artist mentees. The deadline is 5pm on 13 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
The Wheel: Summit 2024 Programme
Join The Wheel team on Wednesday, 29 May at Croke Park to explore the big topics for the community, voluntary and charity sector, including the drivers of social change, the role of the sector in making that change, and what lessons we can take from our successes to address present and future challenges. You can look forward to meeting over 30 speakers. Register via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Create Workshop: Making Odd-Kin
Create are delighted to announce ‘Making Odd-Kin’, a one-day workshop with artists LennonTaylor, hosted by the KinShip project in Tramore Valley Park, Cork. This workshop will act as an exchange of thoughts, ideas, and actions, for socially engaged artists and those from other related sectors who are interested in the call for creative social interactions. The deadline is 4pm on 14 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Cork County Council: Emerging Visual Artists Award
Cork County Council Arts Office has announced a new award for emerging visual artists. The Emerging Visual Artist Award 2024 will provide an artist with a financial bursary and the opportunity for a solo exhibition at the Cork County Council LHQ Gallery. The deadline is 3 May, 2024. For more information, please contact
Job Opportunities and Tenders 
Her Campus: Community Growth Leader
Her Campus Media is seeking a Community Growth Lead who specialises in influencer and campus ambassador communities to join our team full-time. This person will play a critical role in strategising and scaling our community recruitment efforts. Her Campus is based in the US but you can work remotely. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Her Campus: Social Media Content Associate
Her Campus is seeking ultra-creative and original, growth-minded social media content associates with a love for college life and fashion and beauty to create on Instagram, TikTok, Threads, X, Pinterest, Facebook, and emerging platforms. This role is responsible for the day-to-day content creation of Her Campus, College Fashionista, and Spoon University social content, working in partnership with editors, designers, and the branded content team. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
IFI: Marketing and Publicity Manager
The Irish Film Institute is looking for a brilliant communicator with a genuine passion for film, cinema, arts and culture; someone who is ready to take the next step in their marketing and publicity career; and is excited and confident to lead and support a small and dedicated marketing and communications team. The deadline is 6pm on 12 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Visual Artists Ireland: Office Assistant at Dublin Theatre Festival
Dublin Theatre Festival is seeking an Office Assistant to actively coordinate the daily running of the festival reception and front office during the festival period. Responsibilities include reception duties, management of office spaces, administration of the festival’s communication systems, and administrative support. The deadline is 12pm on 29 May 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
Irish Writers Centre: Marketing Assistant
As the Events and Marketing Assistant at the Irish Writers Centre, you will play a pivotal role in the organisation’s communications as well as providing administrative and logistical support to the events and programmes. The Events and Marketing Assistant will report directly to the CEO and will work closely with the Administrator, the Programming Officer, and the Communications and Marketing Officer, as well as with the wider team. The deadline is 12pm on 12 May, 2024. Apply via our Grants and Opportunities page.
For more grants and opportunities, please visit our Grants and Opportunities page.
Thank you for reading. The next edition of the newsletter appears on Thursday, 6 June, under the theme of Pride. More information on artist and news item submissions will be posted on our website and social media in due course.

Beir bua agus beannacht,

Féilim James, Newsletter Editor
Carmen Ortiz Victorino, Assistant Newsletter Editor