My photographic practice centers around themes of migration and the definition of home in an expanded field of new technology. It endeavours to picture individuals who have left something of their sense of self behind.
‘Street Flower’, in particular, depicts a young generation of Vietnamese women living in Paris now, as well as the daughters of women who travelled by boat to Europe in the 1970’s. This work began during a Residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, in the summer of 2014.
Here the women wear jackets within Parisian landscapes that they previously wore moving through the streets of Vietnam by moped. In Vietnam the jackets are worn to protect the skin from the sun. The jackets are multi-coloured, with floral patterns. They are not traditional, nor do they reference the past. Rather, they are a part of contemporary culture, referencing a momentum that is forward facing. Moving en masse through the streets of Hanoi and Saigon, women wearing these jackets, appear like a moving garden. The displacement of the Vietnamese jackets, re-locates aspects of Vietnamese sun, style and subtlety of substance, within a Parisian landscape.
Photography enables us to recreate one world within another. It has the ability to transport like a magic carpet or the white horse from the tale of Tír na nÓg (Land of the Young). Within these images colour and dress become a language, and the photographs a kind of fabric, which transform and re-imagine complex personal identities. Here the environment is malleable, a hybrid of two or many more worlds.
“The exile therefore exists in a median state, neither completely at one with the new setting nor fully disencumbered of the old, beset with half-involvements and half-detachments, nostalgic and sentimental on one level, an adept mimic or secret outcast on another. Every scene or situation in the new country necessarily draws on its counterpart in the old country" (Said, 2000, 370-371).
This and other bodies of work challenge the idea of the ‘Impossible View’, “A view is where we are not, where we are is never a view” (Maeve Brennan, 1962), suggesting that with the rise of new technology and subsequent evolution of photographic techniques, where we are is the view, we are now the ‘Impossible View’.
Within my practice the intrinsic link between the photograph as document of place and as creator of place is investigated. The re-creation of place through photography, re-photography, repetition, doubling and mimicry in an effort to “re-member” and/or identify is examined. It investigates the camera’s ability to create a “third place”, neither here nor there, and to realise the imaginary aspects that embody any emotive place. Here the transformative powers of photography within our culture are considered, particularly how these powers relate to the reformulation of place and the reconfiguration of memory.
In this way the materiality/immateriality and malleability of photographs is explored, as well as the importance of repetition, gesture and performance within the traditional photo album and social media. This reflects upon the use of technology in navigating family divides, and in the creation of an impossible view.
MP Elisha McCallion Photographed by Ailbhe Greaney
SELECT EXHIBITION PRESS:
-'209 Women’, Portcullis House, Palace of Westminister, London & Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. Curated by HIlary Wood, Tracy Marshall, Cheryl Newman, Lisa Tse.
…..One of the most internationally recognised brand shows in 2018, featuring 209 of the most internationally renowned female photographers. The show has gained immense national and international media coverage in the BJP (British Journal of Photography), The Guardian, The Telegraph, Vanity Fair, I-M Magazine, BBC news reports, a Sky Documentary and ITV news reports……
Dickson-Robinson, Lavinia, 2019. 209 Women, I-M, Intelligent Magazine.
“This all female initiative pays homage to the suffering and sacrifices that so many women made to ensure that every female in this country had the right to vote. Emmeline Pankhurst championed the suffrage movement, with women finally getting the vote in November 1918. A year later, Constance Markievicz became our first female MP”
-'Photography Is Magic’, Aperture Gallery, Aperture, Foundation New York. Curated by Charlotte Cotton.
Comstock, Lindsay. 2016. Best Photography Exhibitions of Summer 2016, AmericanPhoto.
"These Photo Shows Are On Fire....2016 Aperture Summer Open: Photography is Magic | Aperture Gallery, New York, NY | July 14 to August 11....Nothing quite says “of the moment” as much as Aperture’s annual summer open, and this year is no different. Including the images from 50 contemporary artists who are thinking about the medium in a new way, this exhibition is all about the magic that the act of making a photograph imparts upon the viewer and the maker, in both its analogue and tangential forms. This year Aperture brought in a guest curator, Charlotte Cotton, to arrange the exhibition (she also curated the ICP exhibition on display concurrently)."
Furman, Anna. 2016. Pushing the Outer Limits of Photography, New York Magazine, The Cut.
"Curated by Charlotte Cotton, the New York exhibit "Summer Open: Photography Is Magic" features works by 50 artists who are reinventing the genre of photography and exploiting the medium to different creative ends. Consider the shattered, drifting pieces of rock in one photograph, or another eerie image by Ailbhe Greaney, of a woman in floral-printed clothing who seems to melt into the wallpaper behind her."
-'A View Is Where We Are Not’, PhotoIreland, ‘Migrations: Diaspora & Cultural Identity’, The Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. (Solo Exhibition).
Head, Jerath. 2012. A View Is Where We Are Not, Le Cool Dublin.
“Ailbhe Greaney’s latest exhibition delves into the nature of what we call ‘home’, and how our sense of it shifts when the time comes for us to leave. Using diptychs of portrait photography and snapshots from Skype of the same image, the difference between home in the immediate/virtual past and in the physical present is depicted to surprising effect. With a superb sense of concept, some outstanding photography is also used to capture the cultural, aesthetic and emotional contrasts between an old and new home. While the project is quite elaborate, it reveals it’s intentions nicely the more you study the photographs as pairs, and compare them to others in the exhibit. It will leave you with a muted sense of longing for your idea of home, which whilst often overlooked is always held dear.”
Campbell, Brian. 2012. A View Is Where We Are Not, The Irish News.
”One of the most eye-catching exhibitions at this year’s PhotoIreland festival in Dublin comes from University of Ulster Photography Lecturer Ailbhe Greaney.”
Dunne, Aidan. 2008. Utopia and other lands in Limerick, The Irish Times.
”…..Greaney’s Photographs are Outstanding…….”