Oral history project on the lives and resilience of Susana Hennessey and Bobby Lavery.
Athléimneacht is an ongoing project the artist is developing during her visits to the north of Ireland. The artist is documenting the stories of resistance and resilience of Bobby and Susana Lavery, a retired republican Irish-American couple Mockler met by chance in an Icelandic airport in February 2017. Since this initial encounter, Mockler has traveled to Belfast to spend time with, and learn from, Susana and Bobby. In this work, the artist is drawing from reflections and practices belonging to the socialist and radical genealogy of Oral History¹. Mockler is articulating these practices through documented conversations and performances with the Laverys.
Amongst many other things, Bobby is a former North Belfast Sinn Féin City Councillor (elected 3 terms) and a sentenced Long Kesh prisoner. During the conflict in the north of Ireland, Bobby’s 21-year old son was murdered by two gunmen. Bobby's lifelong dedication to the Republican struggle as well as his radical militancy for class equality is one pillar of this oral history. For her part, Susana has been instrumental in the implementation of programs for public health equity and social justice in the San Francisco Bay area. She was a former supervisor at La Clinica de La Raza, an activist led multi-service clinic that provides healthcare to low-income and undocumented Latino residents of the East Bay area in Oakland. Susana’s first husband died of HIV/AIDS during their 7th year of marriage. Susana's personal resilience, advocacy and generosity is also at the heart of this oral history.
A sound installation imagined around this ongoing work was shown part of the International Symposium Listening, Performance, and Conflict, held at Concordia University in November 2019 in the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.
1. (Kerr, Daniel. “Allan Nevins Is Not My Grandfather: The Roots of Radical Oral History Practice in the United States,” Oral History Review 43, 2 (2016), 367–391.)