View of Ireland: Collecting Photography|Sunday Times Ireland’s culture supplement 08.12.2019

View of Ireland: Collecting Photography is the National Gallery of Ireland’s first ever photographic exhibition. Its theme is “Ireland” and while the scenes exhibited are familiar, the artwork selected is exceptional in its quality and the delicate treatment of its subjects. The exhibition presents documentary photography as well as vintage daguerreotype portraits and contemporary studio photographs. Two documentary pieces stand out; Nevill Johnson’s Children, Masterson’s Lane (1952/1953) looks like a frozen moment mimicking a Dublin City street. The children in the image are standing in a yard looking like adults going about their day. The other striking photograph is George Zimbel’s Irish Dance Hall, The Bronx, NY (1954) showing a young man with a group of young women looking at him. The scene is not explicitly Irish but it documents a moment from the Irish-American migrant community in the 1950s, which is an inseparable part of Ireland’s story. Both pieces are black and white and use a cinematic approach to their narratives. They make us eager to know what happened next. Rather than becoming a nostalgic cliché, this collection of photographic work celebrates the many possible interpretations of the words “photography” and “Ireland”, particularly when they come together.

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