Cork art installation explores human trafficking, modern day slavery, and drug farming in Ireland

24 May 2021
By Mary Bermingham
mary@TheCork.ie

Tickets went on sale today, Monday May 24th , subject to Government guidelines, for limited live in-person audiences to attend The Day-Crossing Farm (June 14 – 27), an immersive, evocative art installation created by acclaimed visual artist Marie Brett (Yes, But Do You Care? E.gress, Torpedo, Amulet), as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2021.

This ambitious multisensory artwork explores the contemporary human rights and social justice issues of human trafficking, modern-day-slavery and drug farming in Ireland and was developed over two years’ consultation with human justice and advocacy organisations, scholars, gardeners and persons with lived experience of trafficking and forced labour.

Produced in collaboration with a team of guest creatives including filmmaker Linda Curtin; the festival’s artist in residence, composer and sound designer Peter Power; and lighting designer Sarah Jane Shiels; this guided in-person* walk-through experience and online film work incorporates live music and performance, interactive sculpture, moving image, plant-life, sound and lighting design.

Widely considered as one of Ireland’s leading visual artists working in social arts practice, Brett’s vision for The Day-Crossing Farm is to provoke new thinking and discussion around one of society’s most critical contemporary human rights issues.

Visual artist Marie Brett, creator of The Day-Crossing Farm multisensory installation which explores issues of human trafficking, modern day slavery and drug farming, as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2021. Image credit: the artist.
‘The Day-Crossing Farm’ multi-sensory installation by visual artist, Marie Brett. Production still image. Pic credit: Jed Niezgoda.

The timely production comes to life just weeks after publication of the new ‘Report on Human Trafficking and Exploitation on the Island of Ireland’, by researchers at Mary Immaculate College Limerick. This report released on April 29th, 2021, revealed that the number of adults and children trafficked to the island of Ireland between 2014 – 2019 is at least 38% higher in the Republic and 20% higher in Northern Ireland, or 30% higher across the island, than the figure officially recorded. The figures represent an overall increase of 186 persons, to a total of 800 victims of human trafficking to the island of Ireland within six years.

Launching the publication, co-principal investigator, Professor Michael Breen, said modern slavery is “one of the gravest criminal challenges confronting the international community”. He added, “no country is immune to the scourge of the problem,” and said that “victims of human trafficking are hidden in plain sight.”

Commenting on the importance of The Day-Crossing Farm to the festival, CMF Director, Lorraine Maye said, “Over the past 10 years Cork Midsummer Festival has built up a track-record of innovative, highest quality participatory and socially engaged work. The Day-Crossing Farm will highlight one of today’s biggest issues both on our doorstep and globally, through the expert eye of leading artist Marie Brett and her incredible team of creative and community collaborators. A subject matter made more urgent by recent reports stating that the Covid-19 pandemic has in fact allowed human trafficking to continue to be a majorly lucrative crime that has increased the risks to vulnerable people being trafficked.”

Artist and creator Marie Brett commented on the realisation of the artwork, saying, “Human trafficking is one of the most concerning human rights issues of our time. It’s a criminal underworld activity that is happening today right here in Ireland, with hundreds of trafficking victims, often living within local communities, hidden in plain sight.

“It’s fantastic that Cork Midsummer Festival had the interest to commission me to create this work and for the past two years, I have been researching compelling real-life stories of human trafficking, of drug farming and of how modern-day slavery is often linked to debt bondage. I’ve learnt so much and had the privilege of working with some of Ireland’s leading thinkers and creatives, as well as, importantly, people who’ve lived these profound experiences themselves.

“The art piece now made is immersive, and inhabits a secret location with multi-sensorial, promenade encounters. I was keen to explore how ideas of a visionary utopia and the lure of escapism could collide with the reality of a person being deceived then trapped; and for the art piece to enable a hauntingly sensorial experience for an audience, where you’re left hungry with questions, keen to find out more when leaving the work.”

Commissioned by Cork Midsummer Festival.

Funded by The Arts Council, the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, Cork Midsummer Festival and Cork City Council

*The installation will be accessible to limited in-person audiences, subject to government guidelines, from June 14th – June 20th, and will stream on demand online, from 7pm on June 14th – 27th. To book tickets visit www.corkmidsummer.com

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