Images by Shia Conlon
Shia Conlon is a prolific artist, working between Ireland and Finland, with an oeuvre that experiments with photography, film, text, sculpture, and video, at times using bold and provocative visual language. Much of his work has been centered around marginalised voices and growing up in the landscape of working class Catholic Ireland. In his past work, Conlon used pop-culture references, utilising the online platform with Bunny—a collective founded by Conlon—as well as producing zines, using these seemingly non-cultural or mass-culture tools to communicate with a wider, contemporary arts audience. Conlon’s latest work, Against Domestication, is an examination of power structures and how they take shape of gender, sexuality, religion, the family, and the state. Conlon imagined the project as a form in which to explore the rewriting of trauma, wanting to revisit these photographic memories or sites of trauma via restagings. The resulting images act as a language to communicate the otherwise ineffable. So often trauma takes away the inability to articulate, and memories become obscured. The act of speaking, making a language, post-trauma, is political.
It is a challenge to narrow all of a country’s talented practitioners into five individuals, but identifying five artists that represent the diversity of practices is an undertaking that members of the Futures Photography Platform like to take on.
Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, Futures pools together the resources and talent programmes of leading photography institutions across Europe, in order to increase capacity, mobility, and visibility of its selected artists. By bringing together a wealth of resources and curatorial expertise, each talent selected by the Futures members gains access to an unprecedented network of professionals, markets and audiences.
PhotoIreland, the Irish member of the platform, is interested in putting forward artists that have demonstrated experimentation with the medium, appreciating those practices that engage with poignant socio-political issues creatively, with defined narratives and personal visual vocabularies. In the selection, special importance is placed on their career stage, as one of the aims of PhotoIreland is to facilitate extra support in establishing international connections and expanding their networks and, in short, helping professionalise their practice.
For the previous editions, PhotoIreland nominated Aisling McCoy, Barry W Hughes, Ciaran Óg Arnold, Dorje de Burgh, George Voronov, Jamin Keogh, Megan Doherty, Miriam O’ Connor, Róisín White, and Yvette Monahan. Now, on the following pages, you will discover the works of the five Irish artists, nominated in 2020.