The artist behind HEED FM, Garrett Phelan, has developed a distinctive practice through ambitious, site-specific projects that include drawing, independent FM radio broadcasts, sculptural installations and photography.
When YOUTH asked Garrett how the project came together, he explained that the genesis of HEED FM was around homelessness.
“My friend Declan and I were discussing doing a project around homelessness. He taught me about the homelessness sector, and the exchange was that I demystify contemporary art for him.”
But, Garrett quickly realised the subject of homelessness was so vast and complicated that it would be impossible to cover in this manner. He shifted the focus instead to 18-25 year olds, who, he feels, do not have a voice within the state.
“The month-long FM radio and web broadcast is a constant stream of conversation without music or advertisements. It presents recordings made over an eight-month period with a generation of young people whose opinions and beliefs are rarely heard in the public domain and who lack national institutional advocacy on their behalf.”
Asking Garrett to explain how he found the young people that feature in the recordings, he answered, “Really tough work!” Garrett credits his amazing team - Michelle Kinsella, Victoria Evans and Declan Markey with much of this tough work.
Together, they had to build up relationships with young people from many different ethnicities and backgrounds. Garrett doesn’t necessarily believe in building trust, however.
“I don’t even trust myself,” he explains. “Where we were coming from, there’s no way you can create trust. You can create some kind of a give back. We built a system of anonymity around the project and a system of, if we can help you, we will help you. So, we’re helping lots of people through the course of what we’re doing.”
If Garrett meets a young person who’s interested in a particular field of work or study, Garrett and his team will do what they can to help facilitate them.Indeed, the entire project is built around a system of ethics. Garrett’s core intention is one of love, care and compassion. He decided early on that he would avoid the “standard media process through which young people are represented, which is through soundbyte culture.” He finds this inherently confrontational. His process was different.
“I was more interested in what someone was reading, or what they want to do, or what pet they have. And, if an issue did arise we would give people as much time as they wanted to discuss it.”
The whole purpose of HEED FM is about covering young people’s stories in a positive way. It seeks to “de-sensationalise this generation without judgement, giving time and voice to the ambitions, aspirations and passions of those that took part.”
“I’m not a hippy,” Garrett assures me. “It’s about shining light. We could have talked about the dark, but the dark is consistently represented. There’s no one covering the good stuff. That’s what we did.”
The station is running for 24 hours, 7 days a week from 22nd October to 18th November.
Check it out at www.heedfm.com
Main Photograph: Dylan Joyce 'Grand Canal Dock Diver'