On These Grounds unfolds the construction, history and eventual demise of a prison in Northern Ireland. The H Blocks, as the Maze prison is called by Irish Republicans, was built in the early 1970’s as part of British counter-insurgency tactics to thwart the escalation of civil rights protests. Often referred to as The Troubles, this thirty-year conflict was fought in the streets of Northern Ireland by civilians and Irish Republicans against Loyalist paramilitary, resulting in mass incarceration. The film brings together testimonies of former Irish Republican prisoners who, as survivors of that war, are tasked with the burden of bearing witness – the act of remembering, memorializing, and securing a narrative. The burden of revolt.
Jean Rasenberger is an artist and filmmaker interested in contentious spaces and the manifestations of psychic trauma it embodies. For over half a decade Rasenberger studied the H Block prison in Northern Ireland, culminating in On These Grounds in2015. Her current project about the Carrizo Plains, an under-threat national monument in San Louis Obispo County, California, unfolds a narrative surrounding the suicide of Maria Braun, the area’s Bureau of Land Management Monument Manager, within a landscape defined by isolation. Selected exhibitions and screenings include: MoMA, New York; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach; Atlanta Film & Video Festival and the AFI Film & Video Festival. She has lectured on photography and video art at the Society for Photographic Education, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, and innumerable national and international universities. Rasenberger received her MFA from Art Center College in 1992 and was a Whitney fellow from 1982-83. She received the Great Teacher Award from Art Center College where she has taught in the Undergraduate Fine Art Department since 1992.