Pascal and Irma Delamaire were friends of my mothers for many years, although I only met them for the first time shortly after I moved to Paris in 2017. Pascal and I quickly discovered that we’d much in common, including that earlier in life we’d both been puppeteers. My fledgling puppetry career was over before I left my teens, but he’d gone on to perform for many years, ending up on the best pitch in Paris – performing classical puppetry from inside a booth directly opposite Notre Dame. When he looked up during the show, all he could see beyond the puppets in his hands was the two bell towers of Notre Dame, and it gave him a great sense of connection with all the other puppeteers who’d performed in the same spot, with the exact same view, for hundreds and hundreds of years. I love that.
I got some concerned calls from friends and family in Ireland when they saw I was out taking photographs at the Gilet Jaunes protests. I assured them I was fine, having learned a valuable life lesson during my first ever riot*.
The current protests also remind me of attending a much quieter riot during the winter of 2011 in New York.
And of going to the May Day riots in Berlin, which turned out to be a very civilised affair.
*I was seventeen and had just started taking photographs when I went my first riot, which kicked off during a squatter’s protest in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures - after a few hours hanging around in case something happened, when it actually did I was too busy running down a narrow city street as fast as I could from a terrifying wall of charging police, equipped with dogs and waving long mahogany batons. I didn’t have a press card, but even if I had it would have made absolutely no difference - they were determined to pacify everyone on the street with extreme force, no matter who they were. So my top riot tip is this: in a riot, stay as far away as possible from the people who are most likely to hurt you, and those people are probably the police.
My book of New York photos is available online. Limited-edition prints from the book are available for purchase at The Copper House Gallery in Dublin. You can see a piece I did on New York for Narratively here.
L'Absinthe, 1876, by Degas
L'Absence, 2012, by me
We saw these two walking towards us, and I said “He must be in love”. “He must have done something terrible”, replied Nicole.
I first met Nicole Flattery when we were both in the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, and was really impressed by her clever and funny short stories. We did a portrait in the centre that became the author photograph in her new collection, which was given a rave review ("a highly addictive mix of deadpan drollery and candour") in the Guardian yesterday.
There are more portraits of writers in this gallery.
Donal Foreman’s “The Image You Missed” is a really interesting essay film about his relationship with his estranged father, Paris-based documentary maker Arthur MacCaig. I saw it last year in The Pompidou Centre, and asked Donal to sit for a portrait the next day. We met at the cafe in the 5th Arrondissement where he last saw his father, who died in 2008.
As I was shooting, a man who looked like Arthur MacCaig passed by in the background.
“The Image You Missed” screens this evening at the Odeon Point Square Cinema in Dublin, as part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival.
…well, it was when I took these photographs during Act VIII. There was an escalation of violence last week, but so far today’s protests (Act IXX) have been a lot calmer. A lot of people here feel it’s time to give it a rest, and XX is such a nice round number…
Marina de Van is a French film director, screenwriter, novelist and actor. She was a really interesting person to shoot, making it a challenge to pick just one image. I did eventually, it’s in the “Artists” gallery.
It was cold, half-overcast, but still good to be beside a body of water.
After shooting the Gloaming ahead of their show in the beautiful Théâtre de l'Athéné, I stayed on to get some informal portraits during the rehearsal.