© By Amanda Dunsmore
‘Strikers Narrative #1’ - 10min audio installation 2005. Audio installation in blacked out space. CD player, eq, amps, 2 speakers. A narrative in which Billy Hull describes being one of the prison officers to the hungers strikers.
The German language presentation of the ‘Hunger Strikers’ sound installation took place in the group exhibition Anger and Aggression June ‘07, at Kunsthaus Goethe Strasse, in Linz, Austria.
Taking inspiration from radio’s effective story telling format. The artist instructed the gallery to line the walls of the space with sound proofing black material, carpet the wood floor and paint the ceiling black. This created a blacked out space which concentrated the individual to listen to Billy narrate his past experience.
“When the first official hunger strike went on, baring in mind there was quite a few prior to it. But the main hunger strike went on. We recorded day to day account of their activates. The PO in charge of the block he kept a record of the food going in and coming out. The doctor who was in charge of the hospital at the time kept a record of what they were eating, what they were drinking. At the start they were taking no food at all but they were drinking. And people didn’t really take a big lot of notice because we already had two and three hunger strikes and they all petered out. But this one here was different, there was more determination in this hunger strike.
It was only when they began to deteriorate that the doctor became concerned about them. That he informed the governor. And the governor where upon informed us as security that we would have to look at it and see how it would have to handled….The hunger strikers well when they where at their end, well it was quite gruesome. Because these chaps had all deteriorated so much they where, just a shell of a human being lying on the bed And their smell you could smell them….The thing that took me most was to see a plate of food come in - I like my food - and to see a big plate of cabbage, bacon, potatoes, gravy, big bowl of custard , bit of pudding on the top, fresh cream. That was set in front of them every day, and they could ‘t, they didn’t the will power was there. They didn’t would ‘t touch it. And that used to take me to the cleaners, yah know. Where did they get the will power from to stand, or sit, or lye, and look at this. And the smell ! The small rooms in the hospital, were so small and very little ventilation. The smell was there all the time. It was on your clothes. You could smell it all the time”
Billy Hull, ‘Strikers Narrative #1’