The Politics of the Long Haul: Photography, Pro-Choice Artistic Practices and the Archive

National College of Art and Design, Harry Clark Lecture Theatre

3-5pm Thursday May 3rd 2018

The extended struggles over reproductive rights in Ireland represent what Lauren Berlant has termed a “politics of the long haul.” The upcoming referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, as well as the anniversary of women’s suffrage, provides us with a threshold moment in which to discuss the visual politics of the Pro-Choice movement, focussed on the work of three photographers: Laia Abril, Emma Campbell and Sarah Cullen. All three artists engage with critical readings of the photographic archive, from feminist perspectives, to demonstrate and deconstruct the extensive historical, cultural and social repercussions of restrictions on abortion and other reproductive rights. They make the lived realities of the histories and stories of women visual, visible and public, as part of a multi-faceted activism committed to instigating change.

Photography and photographic technologies have been central to campaigns by both the international Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements, from Lennart Nilsson’s foetal images, published in Life Magazine in 1965, to the infamous photograph of the corpse of Gerri Santoro  The photograph has thus been co-opted to serve both agendas, where its status as evidence and its relationship to the ‘real’ are often assumed rather than interrogated. This event brings together a group of artists who embrace the complexity of the visual and material culture around this issue. Each of their practices draw upon the role of photographic archive in the production of meaning in order to represent a range of perspectives on the multiple injustices that attend the denial of bodily autonomy to pregnant persons.

Laia Abril is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, text, video and sound based in Barcelona. Abril’s projects are produced across platforms as installations, books, web docs, and films. Her long-form project A History of Misogyny is a visual research undertaken through an historical and contemporary comparative framework. In her first chapter, “On Abortion”, Abril documents and conceptualizes the dangers and damages caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. Using extensive research methodologies, Abril draws on the past to highlight the long, continuous erosion of women’s reproductive rights to the present-day. She weaves together visual, audio and textual evidence to construct questions about ethics, morality and stories around abortion that have been invisible until now.

On Abortion and Contraception
Laia Abril, On Abortion, 2016

Emma Campbell is a photographer and activist based in Belfast. Her work explores the issues raised by the lack of abortion access for women on the island of Ireland. The stigma and secrecy combined with the attitudes fostered by colonialism and deep religious conservatism are dealt with in a variety of ways, inspired by practices employed by the women photographers in her historical research. This includes photography of direct actions, using the gallery space as an activist space, sharing her practice online to raise awareness, using collage, documentary and found images to produce work that fosters a sense of the structural inequalities that face women faced with decisions about their pregnancies.

WTPTHOLS+Journeys+7
Emma Campbell, When they put their hands out like scales: Journeys, 2012.

Sarah Cullen is an artist based in Dublin who works with a broad range of mediums including photography, moving image and textiles. Her practice focuses on issues of mortality and women’s rights in relation to the self and the domestic space. She explores the relationship between the public and the private: how personal narratives and experiences change and interact with the world when introduced into a public space. Her activism in the Repeal the Eighth movement has informed her recent work, with a focus on creating large scale textile banners which draw on the history of women’s use of textiles and embroidery to enact and communicate resistance.

Sarah Cullen
Sarah Cullen, Our toil doth sweeten others, 2017.

This event has been organised by Photography/ Archives/ Ireland. The talk takes place immediately before the opening of Laia Abril’s internationally celebrated project, On Abortion and Sarah Cullen’s You Shall Have Exactly What You Want, both of which will open in the Copper House Gallery at 6pm, as part of the PhotoIreland festival 2018.

The Politics of the Long Haul (PDF)

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Programme

Friday 3rd November 2017

Dublin Institute of Technology, School of Media

Grangegorman Campus, Rathdown House, Room RD005

8:45 – 9 Registration

9 – 9:15 Opening remarks

9:15 – 11

Panel 1 – Vernacular and Material Histories

Gail Baylis (Ulster University) ‘Delving beneath the purely Visual Surface: The Keogh Brothers postcards of Easter 1916’

Margaret O’Brien-Moran (Independent Researcher) ‘Eyes Fixed on the Past: The Poole Photographic Print Archive’

Aileen O’Carroll (Maynooth University) ‘Visualising the Irish Working Class: Photographs and the Dublin Docker’

Mhairi Sutherland (Dublin Institute of Technology) ‘Re-Imagining Treason: The Riddle of the Photograph’

Chair: Colin Graham (Maynooth University)

11–11:20 Coffee/Tea

11:20 – 12:45

Panel 2 – Producing Collective Identities

Eimear Walsh (Van Abbemuseum) ‘Future Archive: The Young Queer Irish Photographers of Püssys Collective’

Erika Hanna (University of Bristol) ‘Studio Portraiture and Social Norms in mid-Twentieth Century Ireland’

Vukaŝin Nedeljković (Dublin Institute of Technology) ‘Asylum Archive: An Archive of Asylum and Direct Provision in Ireland’

Chair: Valerie Connor (Dublin Institute of Technology)

12:45-2 Lunch

2–3:30

Panel 3 – Roundtable Discussion: The Place of Photography in Irish Public Archives

Panel Members:

Joy Carey and Gareth Montgomery (Digitisation manager and Senior archive photographer, Public Records Office of Northern Ireland)

Elizabeth Kirwan (Manager/ curator, National Photographic Archive, National Library of Ireland)

Zoë Reid (Senior conservator, National Archives of Ireland)

Crónán Ó Doibhlin (Head of research collections, University College Cork Library)

Chair: Orla Fitzpatrick (National Museum of Ireland)

3:45 – 5:15

Panel 4 – Landscape and Land Wars: Legacies of the Colonial

Feargal Fitzpatrick (National College of Art and Design and Maynooth University) ‘Ground Lens: Henry Craigie Brewster’s Cork Calotypes’

Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin) ‘Poverty, Photography and Performance: Eviction and Intermediality in the Late Nineteenth Century’

Declan Sheehan (Curator) ‘The Glass Album: An Experiment in Curatorial Insurgence’

Chair: José Luís Nêves (Ulster University)

5.15 – 5:30 Closing remarks

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Call for Papers

The archival impulse, which remains a primary organising principle within contemporary art, is now, in an age of digital imaging and social media, also a mass-cultural phenomenon. These developments, together with a cultural field currently preoccupied with questions of history, remembrance and divergent conceptions of national identity, make an investigation of photography and the archive in Ireland particularly timely.

This one day symposium will bring together researchers and practitioners who are concerned to interrogate the role of the archive in the production of new knowledges about photography in Ireland, and those who offer alternative narratives of Irish culture through a focus on photography. It will provide a forum for the critical examination of a range of photographic and archival practices, within both official and unofficial, public and private contexts. The symposium aims to gather and acknowledge ongoing research in historic, artistic and vernacular photography as it intersects with practical and theoretical considerations of the archive.

We invite proposals for 20 minute presentations from researchers working in diverse fields and disciplines, such as: photography; media, visual, material and cultural studies; art history; museology; archival and librarian studies; digital humanities; visual anthropology and sociology; history and geography; architecture; and philosophy and literature.

Submitted proposals might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

Art and the Archive

The archive and contemporary photographic practices in Ireland

Invented, found and (re) created archives

Ethics, aesthetics and the re-situating of photographs

Memory, Affect, Materiality

Photography, commemoration and remembrance

Materiality, affect and vernacular photography

Archives, albums and the production of family histories

Identity, Society and Culture

Geographies of representation: borders, space, place, migration and dislocation

Legacies of the colonial, postcolonial and neocolonial in Irish photography

Performing gender in the photographic archive

Archival Science: Collecting, Preserving and Cataloging

Museum, library and archive as linked sites of regulation

Institutional agendas and the photographic archive

Systems of classification, processes of collecting and conservation

Consuming Archives: Digital Repositories and Databases

Commerce, copyright and online photo banks in Ireland

Digitized photographic archives, networks, communities, users and researchers

Photography, social media and the production of digital identities

To propose a paper please send a 350 word abstract (excluding references) no later than June 16th 2017 to photographyarchivesireland@gmail.com

Proposals should also include the full name and title of the author, current affiliation, full contact details (address, email and phone number), and a brief biographical note.

Convenors

Ann Curran (Programme Chair, BA Photography, DIT)

Fiona Loughnane (Assistant lecturer, Dept. of Visual Culture, NCAD)

Dr. Orla Fitzpatrick (Librarian, NMI)