Now that’s what I’m talking about …
In meeting with older people in Dublin 15 about participating in my fashion project, a view that was consistent with each person was that they be photographed first of all as themselves, in their own fashion styles. A fashion image is never a true representation of the model. They are like actors performing a role. I asked each participants to pick a location that is somehow relevant to them, and to dress as though they were dressing for a special occasion – putting their best side forward as it were.
The locations chosen thus far have often been related to the participant’s own youth, such as the photograph of Eddie McGinley above. Eddie chose his old school, in particular the very spot where someone took a photo of him aged ten on his confirmation day in Marino. He talks about this in his video interview, along with his own views on fashion, and his very expensive jacket that is the most expensive item of clothing he has. A jacket he loves but one he fails to understand how he bought, given its price tag. He blamed his wife.
Anne Flanagan is a delightful woman in her 70’s, not afraid to say what she thinks. As it turns out, she will be the first person to take part in the fashion element, which will happen this coming Monday. She has gone for a look in the 70’s with lots of fur, very urban and chic. Hair, Makeup and stylist are on hand to make it work. January weather may well dictate an indoor location as opposed to the preferred outdoor urban setting. Time will tell.
For her own photo however, I photographed Anne in two locations. The first was in her own house, as it was the beginning of the bitterly cold spell and she is well known (so she says) for wearing three of everything. She comprimised for this shot and presented herself in some nice evening wear. Gok would have more appropriate words, I’m sure. The mask was one she made and hangs in her house.
Anne wanted to be photographed in front of the house that used to belong to her grandparents in Lucan. Fields of vegetables used to occupy the space where she stands. Her grandparents house is visible in the background.
The only other male participant is Vincent Reilly. Vincent chose to be photographed outside the house in which he was born, which is in Arbour Hill. A couple of local kids passed by and asked me “who’s your man?”. I pretended he was famous and was shocked that they didn’t know who he was. They left intrigued.
Lillian Harris is what people would call a ‘strong woman’, a woman of strong and honest beliefs and does a mountain of community work.
Lillian chose the weir in Lucan as it was exactly half way from where she was born and where her grandparent’s house was, a trek she would make regularly as a child. Lucan is now her home. She used to wear long skirts but threw that out the window. What she wears now is not governed by her age. She likes who she is and dresses the way she wants to but still finds it difficult to buy clothes.
If you know someone over 50, I would appreciate it if you could get them to answer ten simple quick questions online. I have a questionnaire that will help in my research with this project.
Everyone’s got one. Mine was standing in a cot looking out into the room which would later become my room. It was dark, except it wasn’t dark outside. I had a feeling of someone’s imminent arrival to lift me out. It was quiet. I knew how to get out, but I was too small to try. So I waited. It seemed to be in this period of anxious waiting that a snapshot formed that would become my first memory.
The intergenerational group I’m working with at Draíocht have decided that this will be the theme of their exhibition. First memories flooded forth covering funerals, accidents, strong women, frightening stories, hospitals, birth’s, wakes and first achievements. Each participant has made their own 35mm pinhole camera and will re-create a scene that will be reminiscent of their own memory. Some of the photographs will be taken from the perspective of the child that had the memory, some will photograph the thing that symbolizes the memory.
Memory and Photography. One could write a book and many have. Most people had only a single snapshot in their memory that constituted their first memory. Black and white photography, and black and white pinhole photography seems a very apt aesthetic to apply to this idea, the fuzziness of the image somewhat aligning with the fuzziness of our own memories. An older member of the group had her first memory being on stage. The snapshot was of her mother, waiting in the wings, for her to finish her part. Her feeling was one of being overwhelmed, nervous and anxious to be with her mother again.
The show will be exhibited in April at Draíocht.
What’s your first memory? Comment below.
Scrolling through my daily morning Facebook trail, I stop at a poll that asked “should the bankers get their bonuses, or should they be told to take a hike?”. As I read it, the first thing I wanted to do was to shout at the person for asking such a stupid question, and it occurred to me that this actually is the level of protest that exists in this country. This is all the Irish people are capable of doing. That and bitching to each other about how bad it is, how bad the government is and just how bad it’s actually going to get.
I thought about the 100,000 people that marched to the GPO on a cold snowy Saturday at the end of November. I thought about the 500 protestors (which was more like 1500 from where I was standing) outside the Dáil the night the budget was commended to the house. Then I thought about what it would take to get the rest of the people out of their comfy chairs and their heated houses and take part in what is now beyond necessary to help fix the situation that our Fianna Fail Government has left us with. On the march with the other 100,000 people, it just wasn’t enough. Where were the other 900,000 people? That march left me with a numb sense of gloom and utter hopelessness. I was witnessing a funeral, not the beginning of a revolution.
On the morning of the march, someone had posted on their facebook profile that it was too cold to go out, and besides, she had two new computer games to play with. Let me contrast this with a story that’s happening to the North West of us in Iceland. On the same day as we marched to the GPO, Iceland were holding a referendum to elect 25 ordinary men and women, to be part of an assembly that will change their constitution. Banking savagery too led to the total collapse of Iceland’s economy. Their anger spilled onto the streets with pots and pans outside their houses of parliment. The night of our budget only brought only 1500 people. Iceland, like Ireland was steeped in corruption. A newly drafted constitution made by the people and for the people would restore the public’s faith in their government. That’s their plan anyway, and I salute them for that. Now, 25 people with professions like ‘University Professor of Economics’, ‘Physician’, ‘Mathematician’, ‘Farmer’, ‘Journalist’, ‘Pastor’, ‘Theatre Director’ and ‘Consumer Spokesperson’ hold the job of being temporarily elected for the purpose of amending their constitution for a fairer and better society. Their job is an admirable one, their will, even greater.
Fintan O’Toole has many progressive and radical reform ideas. He is a well respected and intelligent person, and if the cheers he got on his podium that Saturday afternoon outside the GPO was anything to go by, he would be a sure favorite of someone who could lead us out of this muck. For that is what people need right now, a leader, someone to say ‘follow me’. No one has made any serious noise of stepping into that role, and if you think about it, why would they if they don’t have the majority of people behind them.
There are so many things that need changing, our political system being top of the list. The number of members elected to our Dáil, their wages and perks. Our ‘local’ way of doing things should be completely abolished so that the immoral and selfish acts of our fine Independent TD’s Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy Rae should be something that the Irish people should ever again have to witness.
Emigration is an Irish problem once more. I grew up in a time where people wrote songs about Emigration. ‘Flight of the Earls’ was a song my father recorded from a record onto a casette tape – the entire casette tape. A tape he would play over and over again in our gold Toyota Hiace Van, simply because he liked it, and probably because it resonated with his generation. I often think about an article Fintan O’Toole wrote about a year ago. It was about emigration and why Irish people shouldn’t abandon their country. I agreed with him then. I no longer do. If the people of this country cannot get past the bitching and moaning from the safety of their own couch and computer, and not take to the streets to protest and revolt like the Icelandic people did, then why should you ask someone who cares deeply for their country to stay and fight? It’s unfortunately a hopeless and futile exercise. Right now, we have the potential to hold the biggest power, as a people. We can change things. We can do all the things that Iceland did and more. We can bring those bankers to justice and the people in charge who brought us here. We can change the laws and make up new ones. We now have the need to change the rules. We have the people in this country to make those changes. But above all, we have a responsibility to get out, get off our asses and fix this, because the argument of ‘shur, someone else will do it’ is no longer an argument.
The apathy of the Irish is always something that confuses everyone, even the Irish. Why the apathy? Where did it come from? Why aren’t we angry? Maybe being angry is uncool. Perhaps the only time we will see real anger on our streets, when 100,000 is replaced by one million is when our ATM’s stop working, when we have a new currency, when unemployment is out of control. When everyone is really hurting.
I started work with an Intergenerational group in Draíocht a few weeks ago. Part of my residency must engage with a youth group in the Dublin 15 area. Eight older people and 6 transition year students from various schools come together every Tuesday and will work towards making a set of photographs to be exhibited in Draíocht next April. The exact theme of the project is still being teased out. These past few weeks however have been very much about getting back to basics with photography making and using pinhole cameras. The magic of this process never fails to amaze me. How a beautiful image can be formed with a box as small as a matchbox and a tiny almost invisible opening made from a pinhole.
After messing with boxes that took black and white paper as the negative, I decided to make cameras that took 35mm film instead. They give you more than one shot and you can take it directly to a lab if you wanted, eliminating the need for a darkroom. I made mine with a matchbox and some 400 ISO black and white film (Ilford HP5). After an initial test, it was clear that a tripod was very necessary and before the big thaw arrived, I decided to capture some snow. These were taken with an f-stop of 90 and a 1 second exposure each.
Digital cameras have largely removed the method of investigation from taking photographs. A photograph instantly viewed on the back of a camera is immediately judged as being acceptable or not. Where it fails, a new one is taken and repeated until the photograph is satisfactory. Pinhole photography puts the thinking caps back on. There is one chance with a roll of film. It works or it doesn’t. Somewhere therein lies the magic.
The following are images taken from my digital camera prior to the pinholes.