"To move the work is to destroy the work." ~ Richard Serra

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

South Boston Mural

It's hard to imagine being able to find a connection between a Martin Scorcese film and our class, but last night proved otherwise to me. As I was watching "The Departed" for the first time, I grew intrigued by the portrayal of South Boston in the movie. As I tend to do when I find myself curious about something, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and discovered the mural above. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any further information on the origins of the mural, and I also learned that it has recently been torn down to make way for new condominiums- yet another ancient casualty of the rapid rise of new technology and desensitization. Regardless, the piece may be viewed as a truly site-specific representation of the neighborhood it overlooked for so many years. "Failte go mBoston dheas" reads the sign in Irish, over the English translation of "Welcome to South Boston". Adorning the mural in addition are a large Celtic cross in the center, flanked by the coats of arms of the four historical provinces of Ireland. The texts across the bottom read in English, from left to right, "Sinn Fein", a left-wing political party in Ireland, "Irish Republican Army", and "NORAID", an Irish-American fund-raising organization with ties to the IRA. All of these aspects represent, in many ways, the lifestyle and interests of the very residents which have shaped South Boston into the neighborhood it represents today. From the mural one can see how South Boston, or "Southie", is comprised largely of Irish-Americans and Irish immigrants. Though this is not uncommon across all of Boston, the Southie neighborhood has historically been seen as one of the working class. While many Americans view the IRA with less-than-favorable opinions, the Irish and Irish-Americans hold a deeper understanding of the struggles of their homeland. Working against the historical tyranny of the British to acquire Northern Ireland and bring about a "workers republic" across the entire Emerald Isle. Indeed, seeing as the Republic of Ireland is historically Catholic, with Northern Ireland being largely Protestant, the conflict had roots in religion, and has endured some very bloody years. With South Boston being both highly Irish and largely Catholic as well, it comes as no surprise that a mural venerating the efforts of the IRA stood tall over their humble neighborhood for so many years. Interesting to note as well is the placement of Irish text even before the English greeting on the mural. This fact, in addition to the outspoken support for the IRA and the groups associated with it, may suggest that much of the population of South Boston is more concerned with the ongoing political strife in their home nation, than in their new land of America. The foregone mural paints a true picture of the Irish identity so prevalent in South Boston, and thus may certainly be viewed as a work of site-specific art.

1 comment:

  1. Ireland's 26 counties are bankrupt.LOL LOL LOL.