In 2007 Bik van der Pol noticed a half finished site. A green pitch, a half built concrete stand, with fences all around. Nothing seemed to happen there, even though it was located in the very heart of Tallaght, where new construction developments – hotels, shops, housing and office facilities – rapidly arose and surrounded this silent site. This site was Tallaght Stadium, a contemporary ruin where time seemed to have frozen.
This site appeared to be a major conflict zone, in which two sports clubs -soccer club Shamrock Rovers and the local Gaelic football club Thomas Davis-, and the community and South Dublin County Council were the main players. The construction of the stadium started in October 2000, but had been delayed due to financial problems and legal disputes between the two clubs. Finally, the first soccer game in the finished stadium took place in spring 2009.
In general, history is usually very quickly erased from the memory of communities in areas were new urban developments are taking place. The controversial history over the use of this stadium created a focus on a public space of shared interest:
this site was, long before it was brought into use as a community stadium, firmly grounded in Tallaght. This history should not just be erased and forgotten.
Public Arena is a tryptic using three distinct mediums, which explores, animates and celebrates the socio-political journey of Tallaght Stadium.
- Public Arena, a video film (33 min.), made in collaboration with students of Tallaght Community School. The script for this work was compiled from verbatim interviews with people from all sides of the negotiations of the Tallaght Stadium initiative. The video work is accompanied by a publication with the script for the work, designed by David Bennewith.
- a neon public art work based on the Thomas Davis club motto: Nascann Dáshlán Daoine (Challenge Unites People)
- a live event and photo shoot with an enormous 8 meter big ball in Tallaght Stadium.
Public Arena was commissioned by South Dublin County Council‘s ’ In Context 3 public arts programme.