Using spoken word, dance, and music, The Undecided Vote is a powerful rallying cry for those unsure of how they’re voting in the historic referendum
‘Ireland Unfree’ is a Dazed mini-series telling the stories of Ireland’s bold fight for abortion rights, in the run up to the monumental referendum on the eighth amendment. Stirring protest, creativity, personal politics, and vital conversation, these Irish people push for autonomy. Here, we share their journey on Dazed.
The campaign to repeal Ireland’s draconian eighth amendment is urgent, spirited, and wonderfully creative. We’ve seen the iconic REPEAL sweatshirt make its way onto bodies across the globe, Room for Rebellion’s club nights stomping for reproductive rights, skin-prickling performance, and stark, stunning art that’s defined the movement.
“I believe that art is a powerful tool for driving change,” says Rachel Ni Bhraonain, a dancer and aerialist from Waterford, Ireland. Rachel leads Tá Tales (‘tá’ being Irish for ‘yes’), a platform for short films that combine dance, music, and spoken word to tell difficult and often hidden stories. Premiering here on Dazed is The Undecided Vote, an arresting rallying cry for those currently unsure of how they will vote to get out and choose to repeal the outdated, dangerous abortion laws.
As it stands, the most recent polls put the number of respondents undecided in how they will vote in the referendum at around 18 per cent. It’s a huge shift in social attitudes since major polls even in 2013, but the unsure voters could hold the key in what could be a monumental decision for Ireland and its women.
“Undecided voters need to be addressed in this referendum because they face a genuine conflict of conscience,” says Rachel. “They should not feel bad for not being able to decide. For those of us more definite in our views we have found that strength in science, religion, medicine, law, and personal experience. However, the undecided voter can see a value in both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ view point. They are not fundamentalists in either way, they're thoughtful, empathetic people and for some, this decision is so impossible that they will not vote at all, and that will be a great tragedy. I feel voters need to be reassured that a ‘Yes’ vote does not need to reflect their personal view on abortion.”
With work that focuses on political stories and intimate personal experiences, Rachel’s The Undecided Vote – her first independent, large-scale project – unpacks difficult, complex positions and opinions surrounding abortion: “I wanted to also show compassion for the undecided voters,” she explains, “making visible the internal struggle and emotional pressure many feel.”
The breathtaking short film is directed and part choreographed by Rachel, with dancers improvising otherwise in direct response to stories from In Her Shoes, a platform that tells the hard, harrowing stories of women who have had to access abortion services abroad. It’s set to a riveting poem, Lucky, by Sarah Cahill. It’s a spectacular and delicate reminder of the layered emotions that surround the upcoming vote, driving home that compassion and empathy leads ultimately to voting ‘yes’ for the women of Ireland.
“My yes will be for them, not for me,” the poem soars, dancers moving emphatically. “Remembering all the while, I won’t have to change my style of thought, or agree, or get one for me.”
“Movement allows the viewer to really connect with the person addressing them, we start to feel it in our bodies and breath with them, whether we notice it or not,” Rachel observes. Speaking of the Tá Tales platform, she adds that the works she has created around the movement “will celebrate the strength of those that have endured difficulties in private and give hope to those that continue to fight silent battles”. One of her previous works, Of Magdala, explores the positive impact that sharing personal stories around abortion can have on women.
With just days to go to the historic referendum vote on the eighth amendment, Rachel, like many, feels nervous but positive about a ‘Yes’ vote. “I believe Irish people to be progressive, open minded and willing to stick their neck out to help the downtrodden,” she says. “Irish people aren't world famous for their kindness for nothing!”
Directed and choreographed by Rachel Ní Bhraonáin, director of photography Ollie Craig, music written and performed by Joe Love, Lily Moharrer, and Ozzy Moysey