Video artist Clare Langan is a national treasure, and I was very glad to get an opportunity to photograph her in Paris last year. I’d already seen her piece that’s currently in the Moving Woman show at La Galerie Danysz, but I went to see it again on Saturday. It’s so beautiful.
You can see other portraits of artists in this recently updated gallery.
“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. ” Richard Avedon
“Though the session didn’t last longer than twenty minutes, I will forever remember the feeling of standing barefoot in that light-filled room while Avedon apologetically tilted his head toward the lens I kept ignoring, as if the camera were a socially inept friend that the two of us needed to make concessions for”. Myla Goldberg on being photographed by Richard Avedon.
I had a quick dive into the archives when I was back in Dublin, and came across this portrait I made of my father to accompany an interview in Cara magazine about one of his books. It’s one of my favourite pictures of him, along with this one:
You can see other portraits of friends and family in this gallery.
Alen MacWeeney was my mother’s first boyfriend, but the relationship didn’t last after he moved to New York to become Richard Avedon’s assistant. He went on to have a stellar career as a photographer there, often coming back to Ireland to shoot a long-term project on the travelling community. I bought one of his prints of two traveller kids with the proceeds from the first script I ever sold, and it’s up in pride of place on the living room wall.
RIOT is a truly amazing show, filled with hope, love and revolution. I’ve seen it twice, and if I was in Ireland this week I’d go and see it again. The show has been on a sell-out world tour and is back to do a short run as part of the Dublin Dance Festival - get a ticket while you still can (available here).
When I first met the wonderful Helen Sloan, she told me that all photographers are creeps. I was a bit taken aback, but she’s right - photographers want to see without being seen, to capture things that wouldn’t necessarily happen if people were aware that we’re there, quietly shooting away. Just as when this sleeping man caught my eye at Le 104 the other day, though I was quickly outcreeped by his girlfriend Agathe, who snuck in for a close-up. She’s also a photographer, of course.
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
Oliver Stanley was a beautiful man, and a really great friend to me. He died, aged forty-one, on this day in 1995. Remembered with warmth, much love, and this dedication.
He’d be pretty tickled to know I was posting a picture of his arse to the entire world, all these years later. There’s a portrait of him in this gallery.
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.
About eighteen months ago I had a screenplay to finish and wanted to go somewhere warm, cheap and interesting* to get it done, and Lisbon sounded like it would be just the place. It didn’t happen in the end, but I did get to visit for a couple of days last January and very nice it was too.
*When a friend from Northern Ireland overheard what I was looking for, she couldn’t stop herself blurting out “Then why on earth would you move to Lisburn?”