Temple by David Best

Northern Ireland has issues: annual issues with bonfires, issues with how to best memorialise and/or address the needs of victims and survivors of the conflict, definitely issues with performance art (Michael Stone anyone?) or indeed any art that could be perceived as controversial (maybe if you really squint your eyes and are determined to be offended), whether that is The Reduced Shakespeare Company or Andrew Lloyd Webber. And let’s not even get started on that sea god statue.

So what are we all to make of David Best’s new project to construct a ‘beautiful shared structure’ outside Derry / Londonderry, memorialising the past (and in some write ups of this piece, it is claimed that it will be victims of the conflict that will be memorialised, but other write ups, including the Temple website itself, talk more generally about the past), and then setting fire to it, “turning traditional associations with bonfire burning in Northern Ireland on its head”.Well, we will soon see, because it will be taking place next month 14th -21st March.


Artichoke Trust, who brought us the lovely Lumiere event in 2013 as part of the City of Culture Celebrations and Peace Camp on the north coast in 2012), raised part of the money for the Temple project (approximately £30k) through using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, so there’s definitely some support for the project out there in terms of people being prepared to put their money where their mouth is.

The Arts Council describe Temple like this: “Teamwork is central to the David Best ethos and the Derry “Temple” will be built by members of the local community working together with Best and his crew.

Once it is finished, visitors will be invited visit this elaborate temporary pavilion over several days. As at Burning Man, visitors will be able to use the “Temple” as a space for contemplation and remembrance, and to leave mementos, messages and photographs in its interior.

Following this period, “Temple” and its contents will be ceremonially torched by those who have built it”.

David Best is well known for his work at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, where he constructs temples, along with volunteers and festival goers, to remember something or celebrate something, which are then ceremonially torched.

How a project that somehow manages to combine the past, burning things / bonfire, performance art and any element of controversy will be received here remains to be seen, but if Artichoke’s past events and David Best’s well known work are anything to go by, it certainly will be visually spectacular and potentially something very powerful and cathartic. Your thoughts are invited…