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Political and Social Struggles in Ireland

The exhibition “Protest!” presented at the Gallery of Photography Ireland, Dublin, looks back on the works of more than 40 photographers on various political and social struggles that took place in Ireland from the 1960s.
Donna DeCesare
“A woman, limping and clutching a suitcase, walking through the smoke along an otherwise empty street, following loyalist clashes with police in the context of Unionist anger over the redirection of Twelfth parade routes and simmering tensions over the Anglo Irish Agreement. Portadown”, July 12, 1986 © Donna DeCesare
Christine Halsall
“Relatives of Republican Prisoners occupy a Primark Store in the Belfast City Centre to demonstrate support for the hunger strikers”, 1981. © Christine Halsall

The exhibition “Protest!”, presented at the Gallery of Photography Ireland, looks at the role of photography in documenting the various political and social movements that have taken place in Ireland from the late 1960s to the present day. The exhibition focuses on the many fights the photographers have immortalized, from civil rights to “The Troubles,” economic issues, women’s and LGBTQIA+ or travelers’ rights, international movements for change, including pacifist movements, Black Lives Matter or #MeToo.

Showcasing a wide range of photographic practices, “Protest!” portrays the works of Irish and international photojournalists, social documentary photographers, socially engaged artists, citizen journalists and activists, as well as photographs from leading newspapers and NGOs many of which are presented here for the first time. In this context, Trish Lambe, curator of the gallery, invited the photography historian Pauline Vermare to highlight the works of female photographers in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles” of the 1970s to the 1990s, which is generally unknown.

Catherine Leroy
British soldier, Belfast, 1979 © Dotation Catherine Leroy
Solidarity with Irish women in the fight against British imperialism

Pauline Vermare explains: “Trish Lambe knew that I was finishing my thesis; a photographic representation of Northern Ireland from 1969, and that I had carried out detailed research for the project to fill in the gaps in the historiography of the “Troubles”: the need to reintroduce female photographers. The process of ‘undeleting’ women from the history of photography is in line with the work carried out by Luce Lebart and Marie Robert in their book Histoire Mondiale des Femmes Photographes (World History of Female Photographers).”

“For this presentation, I have gathered the works of seven photographers who worked in Ireland during the conflict: Paula Allen, Donna De Cesare, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Christine Halsall, Catherine Leroy, Christine Spengler, and Dana Tynan. The works are hardly seen except for “Carnival in Belfast” by Christine Spengler. Catherine Leroy’s photographs are exhibited for the first time. They were digitized by Dotation Catherine Leroy, in Paris, for the occasion.” The images, compiled in a video on the gallery’s website, show the “Troubles” from a different aspect. They offer new and varied points of view, which, in short, open and complete the photographic representation of Ireland. The desire to diversify and multiply approaches is at the core of the exhibition.

Protest! is presented at the Gallery of Photography Ireland, Dublin, from April 21 to June 11, 2022. Curators: Brendan Maher, Kate Horgan, Pauline Vermare and Trish Lambe.

Rosalind Fox Solomon
Belfast, ca. 1985 © Rosalind Fox Solomon

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