Donal Talbot launches breath-taking photography project 'Queer Fighters'

‘Queer Fighters’ is a stunning display of queer power, featuring six different LGBTQ+ people interested in combat sports.

Split image of the queer fighters from left to right: Tiarnan Mc Cabe, Emily Bradley, Matt Kennedy, Osaro Yemi Azamosa, Diogo Gomes and Louise Mc Donnell
Image: Donal Talbot

Last night, November 3, The Rise, an exhibition commissioned by Blow Photo showcased Ireland’s emerging photographic talent on its opening night. The exhibition will run until November 19 at D-Light Studios, featuring nine photographers whose work explores new spaces in contemporary photography. Among these nine talented artists are Clare Lyons, David Copeland, Elinor O’Donovan, George Voronov, Iryna Baklan, Jolane Schaffner, Karl Magee, Róisín White and Donal Talbot. The last, Donal Talbot, is an artist and photographer whose work is mainly based on portraiture. His newest body of work, entitled Queer Fighters, showcases six different LGBTQ+ people involved in combat sports.

Speaking about what he wished to achieve with his new body of work, Donal said, “In developing this body of work amid a rise of homophobic assaults in the city, I wanted to pose a question. Is the increased engagement with martial arts by queer people born out of a pragmatic need for self-defence or does a shift in the traditional heteronormative attitudes associated with martial arts account for the increased interest in the sport within our community?”

With this new collection of work, Donal hopes to indicate “a new era of acceptance in Irish martial arts, an era which values diversity and inclusion for all types of athletes.” He added that he’s “interested in how our community interacts with combat sports and martial arts.” The project was inspired by Talbot’s own experience of living as a queer person in Dublin, with an interest in boxing as a form of self-defence.

Each project consists of intimate one-on-one portraits of each of the queer fighters, utilising natural light and unedited backgrounds, captured through a soft lens. These powerful photographs are accompanied by conversational-style audio interviews edited by Soria Reilly, capturing an honest depiction of each athlete’s everyday life.

Tiarnan Mc Cabe

Queer Fighters – Tiarnan Mc Cabe

“I definitely feel very confident walking down the street in little tank tops, and you know, feminine clothing, because I know I can defend myself very well. That’s just from years of training and stuff. So it’s definitely a nice little skill to have. Obviously, you should try to avoid using it. But in an instance where you feel like you need to, it’s good to have.”

Emily Bradley

Queer Fighters – Tiarnan Mc Cabe

“It wasn’t till about two years ago that I was looking for something to do. I joined all these LGBTQ+ sports groups, like running and acro-aerobic type things. It just wasn’t for me. Then I found this LGBTQ+ boxing group and it was brilliant. It was fast-paced, everything I wanted. And it’s cheaper than therapy. So just you know, if you’re stressed, go box it out. That’s it.”

Osaro Yemi Azamosa

Queer Fighters – Osaro Yemi Azamosa

“It’s actually started because of a verbal assault against me and my girlfriend when we were celebrating St Brigid’s day. It was low-key embarrassing, but I didn’t like that if anything actually happened, I didn’t know how to protect myself or my friends. So I hit the gym and found the Muay Thai community and joined a few weeks after that incident. I haven’t looked back, it’s given me so much confidence, I just feel empowered.”

Donal Talbot concluded by thanking the athletes who participated in the project, including Tiarnan Mc Cabe, Emily Bradley, Matt Kennedy, Osaro Yemi Azamosa, Diogo Gomes and Louise Mc Donnell. He also thanked the Esker Boxing Club, Vieira Martial Arts and BeatBox Boxing Club in Dublin for allowing him to use their spaces. Queer Fighters will be on show as part of The Rise  at D-Light Studios, Dublin 1, from November 4 – 19.


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