Curios About: Dirty Look at the Dáil Day by Ciara Scanlan

Dirty Look at the Dáil Day By Ciara Scanlan Mixed, boundless/ongoing

1. This work is about . . . calling upon the people of Ireland to give the Dáil a “dirty look”. In 2010, Ireland saw a rise in protests and social action. However, the government did not change course on any of the issues. So I decided to try a new avenue, and called for a mass protest called “Dirty Look at the Dáil Day”, an intervention which took place in 2011.

2. I made this work because . . . in Ireland we refer to a “dirty look” not in a sexual or amorous context, but as a way of expressing disgust or dissatisfaction. It is passive-aggressive, and, ultimately, a futile act. I sent out a press release calling on the Irish public to come at 1pm on 5 May 2011 to give the house of government a minute-long “dirty look”. I was hoping for 1,000 people. Within two hours of the release, I was on national radio and TV stations trying to explain this intervention/protest.

3. I hope when people see this work they will . . . The work sparked conversation and angered and irritated many people because of its blatant satirization of protest. The intention was to comment on how, often, the protester is powerless – and how humour can be a unifying force to instigate debate and action. Maybe we need a Dirty Look Day in 2016?

4. In terms of art history, this work . . . I primarily work as an interventionist artist. In my  practice, I try and access the general public response and insert myself (un)comfortably into the public sphere. I see everyday people as inspiration for my work, and see my role as an artist as being inside the routine of living, rather that in opposition to it. I am inspired by pioneers of intervention, like Adrian Piper, Sophie Calle and Francis Alÿs.

5. You can see my work . . . at

Curios [sic] About is a series featuring works by Dublin artists, curated for us by our friends at the Square in the Circle blog, and hosted there as well as here.

Each artist is asked to submit an image of one work and answer a set of questions about it. We’d love it if you’d submit something you’ve made.

Sign up to get our free Dublin Inquirer email newsletter each Wednesday, with headlines from the week’s online edition, updates from inside the newsroom, and more. It’s a little reminder when we have a new edition out, and a way for you to stay in touch with what we’re up to.

Filed under:


Square in the Circle: Square in the Circle is a blog featuring responses to contemporary art. You can find it at

Reader responses

Log in to write a response.

Understand your city

We do in-depth, shoe-leather reporting about the issues that shape Dublin. We're not funded by advertisers. We're funded by readers like you.

We use first-party cookies to allow visitors to log in to our website and read our articles.