Archiving the Debt

Second exhibition in the Common Denominator series

In February 2003, Los Angeles-based sound artists Ultrared began a year-long project in the Ballymun area of Dublin, commissioned by Breaking Ground, the PerCent for Art programme of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. Entitled The Debt, their project was a series of collective reflections that brought together residents from the public housing communities of Ballymun and Pico Aliso in East Los Angeles. The purpose of these encounters was to compare experiences of regeneration in social housing.

Archiving The Debt focuses on a specific exchange of experiences, ideas and questions that occurred at a time when large-scale public housing was in under intense discussion in Dublin. Set up as a listening room in the Goethe-Institut’s Return Gallery, visitors can access recordings made during The Debt: resident meetings, conversations with city officials, radio broadcasts, performances and electro acoustic soundscapes of Ballymun.

Archiving The Debt opens alongside the conference Bauhaus Effects at the National Gallery of Ireland — a major gathering of international scholars focusing on the legacy of the Bauhaus in its centenary year, organised by Goethe-Institut Irland in collaboration with the National College of Art & Design, University College Dublin and University College Cork.  Fifteen years on from Ulta-red’s first encounters in Ballymun, and amidst global Bauhaus celebrations we might ask: What is the legacy of social housing in Ireland?

Presented by the Goethe-Institut Irland in collaboration with the National College of Art & Design. Supporting structures made by Andreas Kindler von Knobloch.

Situated under Liam Gillick’s Denominator Platform, 2018. Archiving The Debt is part of Common Denominator: Art and the Contemporary World at the Goethe-Institut, a two-year programme in the Return Gallery. Through exhibitions, seminars, discussions and more, it interrogates what it means now to speak of political solidarity, civic standards or even aesthetic values.

Art in the Contemporary World is a taught Masters programme at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin, focusing on contemporary practices and their cultural, political, social and historical contexts. ACW is led by Francis Halsall, Declan Long and Sarah Pierce


Return Gallery



37 Merrion Square


Dublin 2

7 February through

15 April 2019.