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Post Picturesque: Photographing Ireland, Perlman Museum, Minnesota, March 3–May 7, 2017

Post-Picturesque: Photographing Ireland presents nine accomplished artists, resident in the Republic and Northern Ireland, who respond to the famously picturesque Irish rural landscape with new aesthetic and critical approaches. This ambitious exhibition, curated by Perlman Teaching Museum Director Laurel Bradley, introduces the following lens-based practitioners to American audiences — many for the first time: Gary Coyle, Martin Cregg, David Farrell, Paul Gaffney, Anthony Haughey, Miriam O’Connor, Jill Quigley, Anna Rackard and Ruby Wallis.

Anthony Haughey, photographer: “Ireland in Crisis”

Anthony Haughey, one of the nine featured artists in the Perlman Teaching Museum exhibition Post-Picturesque: Photographing Ireland, will launch the exhibition with Ireland in Crisis: Post Celtic Tiger Photography, on Friday March 3, 7 pm Weitz 236 with opening reception in the museum to follow.  Haughey is a distinguished photographer and teacher (at Dublin Institute of Technology) whose photographic and film work focuses on issues of identity, tensions around borderlands, and contemporary social, political pressures related to changing geography. This talk will illuminate his Settlements project, which explores the new “ruins” left behind after the collapse of the real estate market and the “Celtic Tiger” economic boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Anthony Haughey brings an artist’s eye to the task of representing empty housing estates, which he says had become a “visual cliché of post Celtic Tiger Ireland.” By contrast with banal news images of “ghost estates,” Haughey’s ruins, produced between dusk and dawn, are rendered with rhetorical grandeur: “The combination of darkness, long exposures, and artificial light draws attention to the destruction of the natural environment, a direct result of overdevelopment. Stalled building activity stands frozen in time, a reminder of disastrous laissez-faire capitalism and planning legislation.”

Just as the compositions—glowing spectacles of forlorn residential clusters and jagged unfinished walls—are theatrical, Haughey’s accounts of prowling the terrain are full of drama and strange pleasure: “Climbing over these temporary walls and walking into the darkness instills fear and awe, a sublime terra infirma.” Ultimately, the photographer defines these abandoned sites as places of collective mourning. These landscapes are not simply “a recording of what is in front of the camera lens, [they are] a reframing of collective memory/history to encourage a critical dialogue with the spectator, where memory is inextricably bound with these violated landscapes, a constant and painful reminder of economic failure and future indebtedness.”

The dystopian sublime of Settlement could paralyze an audience with shock and awe. Haughey, though, suggests ways forward via a creative collaboration with architects and architecture students. Drawn proposals for repurposing such urban eyesores as the abandoned Anglo Irish Bank headquarters site in the Dublin Docklands are a call to action and community spirit: “It is our collective responsibility to reimagine how the ruins of the present offer a unique opportunity to reimagine how we want to live in the future.”


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