Sunday, 6 February 2011

Photographer Brings Emigrants Into Focus...

WHEN he first began his photographic project documenting the departure of young emigrants in early 2010, David Monahan had no way of knowing a mass exodus was about to take place.

But with more than 65,000 emigrating from here last year alone, Mr Monahan’s project, Leaving Dublin, is tapping into the mood of a generation.

The Dublin photographer first got the idea when talking to a young couple in their 20s — he was an electrician, she a beautician, and both have been out of work for a long time — who were leaving for Australia. From that one conversation, David decided to begin a series of shots which document emigration in modern Ireland.

He advertised to photograph people of all nationalities, who had made the decision to move from Ireland for economic reasons.

The pictures, which can be seen on, are not just random images, but highly stylised and conceptualised shots which will form a series which Monahan hopes to display in a public arena which the project is completed.

Shot at night in and around Dublin city, Mr Monahan juxtaposes his subjects with landscapes that are significant to their pasts.

But what is it about the poignant almost moody images that draws people to become subjects in his project?

"It marks their passing from one life to another, it is something to mark a decision that will have far reaching effect into their future," he said. "I think people buy into the idea that it shows the sadness but also the strength and tenacity of what these people are doing.

"It clearly resonates with people across generations too.

"I had a call from a woman from New York state who had emigrated 50 years ago and she completely got what I am trying to do."The photographer uses the device of the battered old suitcase from the 1960s which brings an historical element into the picture. That signifies this is not the first time an Irish generation has had to leave. My own parents did. The suitcase is about a visual metaphor as well as a simple prop to help composition."

So far Mr Monahan has photographed 25 people, but with interest growing and media coverage — including a slot on CBS — helping things along, he has "quite a few" to do over the next week.

When he has enough material, Mr Monahan plans to enlarge the prints and display them in one the cities to which our young people are moving.

Report by Jennifer Hough - Irish Examiner

1 comment:

Michael said...

REALLY beautiful portraits; sad subject.