Carrick-on-Shannon  Car Boot Sale

Car boot conception

The car boot sale can be imagined as:

- A contact zone for gathering, collating, re-presenting and disseminating people, objects, relations and knowledge.

- A focal point through which various levels of information and experience are received and transmitted between groups and individuals.

- A collaborative zone where economies based on exchange and giving produce effective means for revealing and retrieving history, memory and meaning pertinent to constitutive publics.

- An archive liberated from its historical incarceration in the media and social and political institutions; to “...project the social imagination into sites of testimony” (Derrida) and create mobilised discursive spaces.

- An archive also, in the sense of an accumulation of the historical residue of cultural artifacts; collected, collated and made accessible and open to public investigation.

Private public space

In the case of Carrick-on-Shannon car boot sale, a space has been opened up/carved out of the contested and conflicted social and geographical terrain.
One day a week a petrol station forecourt is given over to 'public' use.

Through negotiation, agreement and collaboration between landlord and tenant, property and people, a beneficial partnership involving mutual trust and patronage emerges: A contrived and constructed occupation under the terms of a contract that adapts to changing circumstances as they occur. The result is effectively, a collective purchase of space and time that 'acts' as a 'commonage' for social gathering.

That the space within which a functioning 'demo-s-phere' can operate only exists through financial arrangement with a proprietor reveals the state of human relations with each other and the land. The ancient right once held by the people to have access to 'common land' for the purpose of gathering together and going about daily business unhindered, no longer exists. All land is under 'legal' possession either by private or state interests. Therefore a privately rented temporary space provides a legitimate and secure refuge for public occupation.

The car boot community buys a time and a space where economic relations, news and activism can travel, creating a zone where the rules of the dominant social factions are suspended (or at least the contours of the social landscape are altered, shifted and blended in search of a different balance).

Unfettered, unimpeded and to an extent 'beyond' the law; the natural function, instinct and desire of the 'social human creature' to congregate in order to communicate, exchange, share and support finds a way to manifest. It is in this sense that the car boot sale could be conceived of as a potential threat (to an established order).