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Looking at the Irish Border through hard and soft lenses

by Aidan Dunne
In the article “Looking at the Irish Border through hard and soft lenses,” author Aidan Dunne reviews the photographic exhibition Reframing the Border. The Reframing the Border exhibition features fourteen photographers whose work has a bearing on the subject of the Irish border. Among the photographers showcased are Donovan Wylie and his British Watchtowers series, Kate Nolan and her Lacuna series, and Anthony Haughey and his Disputed Territory series. In the article, the author discusses the various themes surrounding the work exhibited, making reference to a border or dividing line amongst the works. Dunne notes the Irish border highlighted in the exhibition has two focuses, the landscape that surrounds it, and the people who live alongside it. In examining Wylie’s British Watchtowers photographs, Dunne sheds light on Wylie’s interest in photographing functional architecture and the concept of vision as power.
Dunne connects the present-day concerns over surveillance with Wylie’s watchtower photographs. In examining Nolan’s Lacuna photographs, the author suggests Nolan attempts to get a sense of the locals’ worldview by being a patient and empathetic observer. According to Dunne, this allowed Nolan to get inside of the minds of her subjects. Finally, in examining Anthony Haughey’s Disputed Territory, Dunne states that Haughey’s work suggests that although the impact and significance of borders changes frequently, they will still be the site of conflict and will be capable of escalating so long as the border exists. Dunne goes on further to propose that Haughey’s method of photography provokes one to look twice at subjects that seem to be ordinary at first glance.
Author Aidan Dunne is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and is currently the visual arts critic for The Irish Times.
Dunne, Aidan. “Looking at the Irish border through hard and soft lenses.”, August 7, 2018.
Review by Hanna Hendrickson-Rebizant
July 2019
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