The Spike Hotel is a seemingly unremarkable building like many thousands of others across Ireland. It sits on a minor rural road crumbling back into the landscape. While this is an architectural condition that speaks to many places in Ireland and beyond, the context here is deeply specific. The Spike Hotel is a building divided by an international frontier.
On the centenary of Partition, a slice of this border – The Spike Hotel, along with its immediate context of the road and verge – was proposed to be reconstructed at 1:1 scale in Venice as a space of congregation and reflection. We see the borderland as a place of exquisite beauty, of possibility. We look with optimism at what these sites can teach and tell us about ways of living together in common.
By recreating this former síbín – an illegal pub named after the spikes used by the British Army to close the adjoining road – and its context in the Arsenale, the exhibition intended to study what the border is actually made of – spatially, materially, politically, ecologically. We celebrate the maverick ways that people come together across the border in spaces like the Spike Hotel – that serve as bridges and meeting points rather than points of separation. We look at these with care in order to unpack what living together across borders might mean in 2023.
Shortlisted proposal for Irish Pavilion Venice Biennale 2023 – Collaboration with Tom Keeley, Aisling O’Carroll, Daly & Lyon and Michael Corr.
(final photo credit: Bryn Colton)