PS2: Backin' Belfast

'Backin' Belfast'- culture, arts and leisure. An experimental campaign, how to re-activate and re-claim the city. February - March 2013.

On Monday 03 December 2012, Belfast City Council voted to restrict the flying of the union flag outside the City Hall. Nationalists at Belfast City Council wanted the union flag to be taken down altogether, but in the end agreed on a compromise from the Alliance Party that it would fly only on 18 designated days.
Minutes after the motion was passed, loyalist protest erupted outside the building which quickly became violent and spread to loyalist areas in East Belfast.
A wave of protests and violence in the following days and weeks before and shortly after Christmas led to a significant decline in city centre business, visitors and tourism.
Although the protest gradually declined in number, a demonstration is still held every Saturday in front of the City Hall.
The Backin' Belfast campaign by Belfast City Council started end of January with the promotion of inner city shops, bars and hotels through an advertising campaign and special offers. Part of this campaign was the revitalization of the city centre through arts activities, of which PS² is a small contributor.
Although PS² can be criticized of being complicit with a campaign which tries to promote business as usual and a smooth shopping experience, we decided to back up Belfast or, more precise, to gradually reclaim the city and public spaces for the citizens.

PS2: Backin Belfast
From left to right: 1,3,4, Blackstaff Square, 15-17 February; 3 City Hall, 09 March.

'Culture, arts and leisure' refers to the wide remit of the Northern Irish Department which also includes sports.
With our broad understanding of culture, we use ping-pong and film screenings, craft workshops, skipping and more as means to offer playful and non-commercial use of public space. Supported by artists who work as commentators and activators, this space is regenerated and re designated for the citizens and spatially filled with choreographed movements, screams, fun and the absence of commercial purpose.

For PS² , the Backin' Belfast campaign is an experiment how to deliver a service to the City Council, to be attractive for passers-by and to be artistically sound. With every weekend of activities at various squares, this is an interesting learning process and a test for artists and concepts of urban interactivity alike.

PS2: Backin' Belfast
Winter sports, poetry and Russian cinema: Writers Square and PS², 23 March.

The theme of civic re-appropriation of the city and a non-commercial, leisurely and playful use of public spaces is central to PS²'s contribution to the Backin' Belfast campaign.
‘Some Things About Belfast’ is a body of work by Aisling O’Beirn, derived from her collection of unofficial urban information and urban myths. She has been gathering place nicknames and contemporary urban anecdotes from around Belfast for many years. The nicknames collected are all unofficial names that people use commonly for streets, places or local landmarks, but which do not appear on city maps or official, formal state or city documents. The interest in unofficial information stems from a concern by the artist regarding the politics of how place is described at a local level.
‘Some Things About Belfast’ is an on-going project and everyone is invited to contribute to this map.
For PS², Aisling O'Beirn formatted her collection of nicknames according to their location on the street grid.
The river Lagan and Belfast Lough are dotted which gives the collection the appearance of a star map.
The image below is a section of an entire map of Belfast.
For more information about the artist see:

Aisling O'Beirn: Some things about Belfast
Aisling O’Beirn: ‘Some Things About Belfast’ , 2006/2013.

PS²-  Backin’ Belfast: programme 22-24 March 2013. Location: Writers Square and PS² (relocated due to snow).

Friday 22.03


-city sports: ping pong and table football

Saturday 23.03
12-2pm; 4-6pm



-city sports: ping pong and table football
-Monza 3000 mobile cinema  PS²: - films by artists screened in a converted cinema caravan.
-Poetry in PS² caravan cinema.  (Colin Dardis and Voica Versa poetry group). Stand up and speak: of times of hope, through lines of love, of sadness, joy and the tickle of rain. The spoken word performed in public. Just listen and you will make your own rhyme. All poems will be up as posters on the blackboard.
-Mapping the city: On a big blackboard, a map of Belfast shows official places of culture and interest. With the help of two artists, keen in urban walks and city exploration, this map will be updated and refined by passers-by. Wonder if any fountains will be included?
-Space walks: Skipping, hula-hooping and other ways to move around. With an artist as a guide and coach what can go wrong with this unusual moves.

Sunday 24.03
1-3pm; 5-6pm


-city sports: ping pong and table football
-Monza 3000 mobile cinema PS² : films by artists screened in a converted cinema caravan.
-Shadow play in the cinema. With the video projector as light source, all it needs is to cut out shapes, figures and animals, stick them on a stick and the shadow theatre can begin.
-Mapping the city: Some Things about Belfast (Aisling O’Beirn)
On a big blackboard a map of unofficial nicknames for streets, squares and landmarks can be explored and, with the help of John Snow like interpreters, people can add more information. Do you know where ‘poor man’s Pompidou’ is?

PS2: Backin' Belfast
Shadow play workshop and Russian cinema: PS², 23 March.

'Backin' Belfast' is funded by Belfast City Council.

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