Exhibition Notes

‘Ecology’ is not a specific part or form of crisis. It is a way of seeing the manifold expressions of the crisis today… Where does the social problem end and the ecological problem begin? -Jason W. Moore Launching Cultúr Lab’s new “Eco” series, and in conjunction with the “World-Ecology, World-Economy, World Literature” symposium at UCD, this cultural evening explores artistic representations of the intertwined contexts of economy and environment, showing how cultural production can create new understandings of the lived, everyday experiences of “ecology” and “crisis.” The photography exhibition sets out to challenge stereotyped ideas of landscape and environment as pastoral nature, presenting instead images of urban dereliction, Namaland, and the housing collapse, alongside pictures of social protest against the consequences of austerity, uneven development, and resource extraction. As activist photography, these images also foreground power: the use of surveillance and force to discipline resisters, but also the potential of social movements to fight for the kind of environments they want to live in: environments of equality and plenitude, not austerity and scarcity. Similarly, McCormack and Lordan’s writing is acutely attuned to the challenges of contemporary life in recession-Ireland, whether the hardships and absurdities of post-Tiger life in working-class Dublin, or the isolation and black wit of rural communities on the western coast of Ireland. Both photographers and writers powerfully map social transformations of the environments in which we live—from the urban-scapes of Dublin to the fenced-off beaches and fields in Mayo where Shell has enclosed the commons and built pipelines—and ask us to see these landscapes in a new way.
I would like to thank my co-organizers, Treasa DeLoughry and Michael Paye, alongside Marisa Ronan (Cultúr Lab) and Ruairí O’Cuiv (DCC, The LAB), for enabling this event. Thanks also to UCD Humanities Institute and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature for sponsoring the writers’ readings.

Biographies of Photographers
Andrew Flood first took up photography after giving a talk on the 1980s pro-choice movement. He writes, “When the other speakers reacted with excitement to my pictures from that time, I realized the importance of documenting protests and movements. What began as a project to archive and report from within struggles quickly blossomed into a love of the lens as a way of telling our stories to audiences that might not otherwise be reached.” His activist photography can be seen at www.facebook.com/WorkersSolidarityMovement and his artistic work can be viewed at www.500px.com/andrewflood. William Hederman has been practicing photography since the early noughties, when he first became involved in radical social movements. Since 2005, he has been documenting resistance to Shell's Corrib Gas project. He observes, “Such conflicts tend to be presented and recorded in a way that suits the need of corporate power. It is imperative that these stories are told from the perspective of the resisters, and photography plays a powerful role in this. Images outlive the spin.” Aileen O’Carroll believes in the importance of photographs as memory, as the documentation of ordinary and extraordinary struggles against power and domination. She writes, “As an organizer, I first became aware of how perspective shapes the narrative of the story. Is a photograph taken from behind police lines, looking at protesters or from within the crowd looking at the police? Do you only see angry young men or do you see joyful middle-aged women? Mainstream media represents protesters as the ‘Other’. I am interested in the ‘We’.” Aileen’s photography can be viewed at www.aaocarroll.org. Paul Reynolds first began taking photographs around the age of 12. He explains his motivations as a photographer as a mixture of the artistic and the political: “Composition fascinates me. I'm still trying to understand what makes a good picture 'good'. The camera often ‘lies.’ But I’m interested in what it can reveal as well. In street and documentary photography I try to find contradictions or contrasts and use them to express my objective.” A gallery of his work can be viewed at flickr.com/photos/paul_reynolds.

Sharae Deckard (School of English, UCD)

Biographies of Writers
Dave Lordan is a writer, editor, and creative writing workshop leader based in Dublin who has been shaking up the Irish literary scene since the early noughties. He is the first writer to win Ireland’s three national prizes for young poets: the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2005), the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award (2008), and the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award (2011), for his collections The Boy in The Ring and Invitation to a Sacrifice, published by Salmon. In 2010, Mary McEvoy starred in his debut play Jo Bangles at the Mill Theatre, directed by Caroline Fitzgerald. His acclaimed short fiction First Book of Frags debuted with Wurm in 2013, and he edited the New Planet Cabaret anthology of New Writing from Ireland. Alongside Karl Parkinson, Lordan makes up the performance poetry duo Droppin’ The Act and is a passionate performer of his own work. He is contributing editor for The Stinging Fly and teaches contemporary poetry on the MA in Poetry Studies at the Mater Dei Institute, DCU. He blogs ferociously at www.davelordanwriter.com and tweets@davelordanpoet. Mike McCormack is the author of two collections of short stories, Getting it in the Head and Forensic Songs, and two novels, Crowe’s Requiem and Notes from a Coma. In 1996 he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature and Getting it in the Head was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. A short film scripted from a story in that collection, was longlisted for an Academy Award in 2003. In 2006, Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award; a new edition was recently published by SOHO Press in New York. He was awarded a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in 2007 and has been the recipient of several bursaries from the Irish Arts Council. He currently teaches on the MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway and on the MFA in Creative Writing at the American College in Dublin. He was visiting professor at Willamette University, Illinois in 2001 and recently he has taught in the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin. He currently lives with his wife in Galway.

Landscapes of Crisis
An Evening of Photography and Literature

25 October 2013 Cultúr Lab & The LAB

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