The Gallery of Photography in Dublin has just launched an exciting new exhibition, ‘PROTEST – Photography, Activism and Social Change in Ireland’. The show includes some beautiful recollections of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ past. Co-curator Brendan Maher tells us a bit about the show and his selection for the LGBTQ+ strand of the show.
The ‘PROTEST’ exhibition looks at the vital role photography has played in recording and making visible the struggle for equality, diversity and inclusion in Ireland. Over recent decades we have witnessed an unprecedented change with systemic inequalities challenged and, in some cases, overcome.
This social revolution has encompassed a broad spectrum of local and national issues, from civil rights, political struggle and conflict, women’s rights, LGBTQ+, institutional abuse, social and economic issues, Travellers’ rights, through to international movements for change, including anti-war, climate change, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.
Outlining a broad range of photographic practices from the late 1960s to the present day, ‘PROTEST!’ features work by Irish and international photojournalists, social documentary photographers, socially-engaged artists, citizen journalists, and activists together with photographs from leading newspapers and NGOs, many exhibited for the first time. Dramatic images of conflict shown alongside photographs documenting individual actions and collective protests combine to reflect different vantage points and perspectives, giving an insight into the often protracted nature of resistance.
The LGBTQ+ strand of the exhibition outlines a brief chronology of the queer movement. This section features images from the first demonstration organised by the Sexual Liberation Movement for Homosexual Law Reform in June 1974.
Photographs of early Pride events including the Cork Gay Collective leafleting outside the English Market during Cork Pride Week, 1981 are shown alongside Wally Cassidy’s images of Dublin Pride from 1992 and Christopher Robson’s personal colour photographs from the collection of the National Library of Ireland of Dublin Pride Marches from 1993 onwards.
View this post on Instagram
Works by social documentary photographers Derek Speirs and Tom Grace record pivotal events including the Fairview Park March 1983, which was organised in response to the suspended sentences handed down to the 5 youths responsible for the ‘gay bashing’ and subsequent death of Declan Flynn (31) in September 1982.
Sean Gilmartin’s candid photographs offer a rare glimpse into Dublin’s LGBTQ+ nightclub scene. Taken at the Flikkers 6th Annual Halloween Ball, 1987, these images are an important record of a social space where LGBTQ+ patrons were unburdened by the homophobia shown in other venues at that time. More recent photographs offer similar views of club culture but from the perspective of LGBTQ+ photographers.
The exhibition concludes with a selection of artworks by exciting contemporary LGBTQ+ artists investigating gender, queer bodies and queer culture, featured in the ‘Come To My Window Belfast’ project which was excited during Pride in 2020.
Brendan Maher is an Independent curator specialising in photography. He is currently the lead researcher and a member of the curatorial team on the Gallery of Photography’s ‘In Our Own Image’ programme: a history of photography in Ireland,1839 to the present.
View this post on Instagram
As part of the Bealtaine Festival, Brendan will be in conversation with LGBTQ+ activist, DJ and journalist Tonie Walsh on Thursday, May 12, 2022, at 1.15. To book a free place for this in-person event click here. A recording of the conversation will also be available on GCN TV the following week.
‘Protest – Photography, Activism and Social Change in Ireland’ is co-curated by Brendan Maher, Kate Horgan, Pauline Vermare and Trish Lambe and is on view at the Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square until June 4, 2022. To find out more click here.
© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.