David Monahan | Leaving Dublin
Posted on Mai 22, 2012 by Julia Schiller
In the project Leaving Dublin, photographer David Monahan has captured more than 100 imminent emigrants on film as they prepare to leave the city in search of better opportunities abroad.
I fully recognise the difference between this and previous waves of emigration and at the same time I acknowledge that the quest remains the same – the search for a better life. The work honours the courage behind the decision and the fact that moving to a different country can dramatically shape the future lives of those who leave, and has huge impact on those left behind.” –David Monahan
After a successful projections phase at several intenational venues, Leaving Dublin will be exhibited as part of the PhotoIreland Festival 2012, which will explore the theme ‘Migrations: Diaspora & Cultural Identity’: July 5–22, Leaving Dublin at The National Photographic Archive Meeting House Square, Dublin.
From there it will travel to Melbourne, where it will be exhibited at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and discussed by the new Irish community in Australia.
A good part of the funding for the exhibition has already been raised, but David is seeking donations through a Fundit campaign for the remaining €5000, which will cover the printing of the thirty 1 x 1.3 metre photographs, which cost more than €300 each.
Please consider donating – there are amazing rewards in return!
For example: A large format photographic portrait shoot of yourself made on Polaroid type 55, a very rare and discontinued art film with distinctive print look. Print signed and dated by the artist and a one on one opportunity to talk about the project.
Fundit will be accepting donations for another 8 days. To make a pledge, please click here.
David tells us a bit more about his background and his motivation for starting Leaving Dublin:
Since graduating from art college in 1997 (Dunlaoighre College of Art, Design and Photography) I have worked for a number of cultural organisations in and around Dublin, most notably The National Library of Ireland, The National Museum of Ireland, The Gallery of Photography and The National Photographic Archive.
During this time I have exhibited personal work twice, in 1997 Portrait and Identity – a group show at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, and Recent Histories – a show proposed, curated and produced in conjunction with fellow artists Michael Durand and Pete Smyth.
Ireland had a very active cultural sector up to about 4 years ago.
As a result of this I found my self in a key role producing photographic material for several large cultural exhibitions including the Yeats,and Joyce exhibitions in the National Library, the soldiers and chiefs exhibition in the National Museum.
Things have cooled down substantially in the last few years and I have found myself looking for a new direction in photography. This has led me to set up The lilliputian – a blog space and an area for building my personal projects. Leaving Dublin is one of these projects.
Since the great famine of the 1845-46 Ireland was a net exporter of people all trying to get a better life for themselves. Apart from some notables most of these peoples left these shores undocumented and are largely uncelebrated.
For example, when my mother was 17 years of age her entire family were displaced when their home was flooded and destroyed by the river Tolka flood of 1955. All of her family (bar her) settled in England over the next few years and remained there. Half of My Father’s family moved from Ireland to seek their fortune as Ireland was a very poor country with few oppertunities. Indeed for a time during the 80’s and 90’s I had no siblings living in the state (one of 3 returned in 1999).
This trend continued until the early 1990’s when it was reversed. From then on until 2007 the population of Ireland started to grow. Graduates remained in Ireland after graduation. Professionals returned to take up posts in a growing economy. It was happy days for a few years.
Recently the Irish economy was exposed as a speculative sham not unlike several others in the western world. As a result of this economic activity slowed rapidly, leaving a section of the population in a very vulnerable position. They were left with a stark choice of unemployment or emigration.
Leaving Dublin is an attempt to make up for the lack of recognition, celebration, or photographic documentation of the emigrants of the past.
It works like this:
Each participant is asked to choose a part of our town that is special to them. I go shoot some tests (looking for a stage). I bring these images back to the participant(s) in question, and together we choose the best one. The aim is to achieve a glorious, dramatic, parting shot – something that illustrates to Ireland what exactly they are loosing each time a person takes the plane. So the scene is treated like a stage set the relevant pieces individually lit. The work is tripod shot to insure alignment on editing, and nothing is added.
So far “my people” have dispersed to the U.S.A., Japan, England, Canada, Finland, Australia, Brazil, and beyond. So far I have made 75 of these images in a 26 months period.