For many tourists and locals alike, Dublin is a city of excitement, mystery and adventure. It’s a city famed for its romances, intrigue and culture. Yet, in this recent collaborative project, photographer Aidan Kelly and artist DMC take a new approach in capturing and representing this fair city.
The two artists re-imagine Dublin as a woman with whom their relationship has died, describing a profound sense of abandonment and isolation in a city they once felt they knew. The quickening pace and sudden change in life left them feeling as if Dublin had lost the charm which made her unique. As such, the resulting project, a collection of fourteen photographs, spray painted and stenciled over offer a poignant and often nostalgic look at ordinary, everyday scenes of the city.
The project marks the first collaboration between these artists. A relationship that seems to have worked seamlessly, the exhibition and resulting pieces are the unique fruits of labour from two men both well known and highly regarded in their respective fields. Even though it’s difficult to imagine the opposite mediums of photography and spray painting coming together, both forms compliment and support each other effectively, much like the artists themselves.
One particular work, a mixed colour and black and white collage of the docklands, features the emblazoned spray painted words, “No More Secrets”. A reflection on the surface of the water acts as a sort of exclamation point, adding a sense of urgency and anxiety to the piece. Another shot captures the iconic red bricked terraces of inner city Dublin, at night. A faded streak of colour across the scene represents the speed and bustle of the city, while the buildings, alone and desolate, draw attention to the traditions so quickly being forgotten.
A highlight of the exhibition captures a youth sitting alone on the steps of the Central Bank of Ireland. The young man, easily missed at first glance, stares out at the viewer, from the corner of the photograph. DMC’s trademark stenciling and graffiti inspired sprayings suggest an uncertainty for the future of Dublin’s youth. Throughout the exhibition, these sort of social problems are tackled effectively and evocatively.
The fourteen large pieces, sized A0 and printed on dibond aluminium, when viewed together, certainly offer a jarring and contrasting image to the Dublin so often promoted and idyllically remembered by many. Exhibited in Temple Bar’s The Library Project, even its setting seems to add to the viewing experience. Situated in one of the city’s liveliest and busiest quarters, the exhibition space still manages to feel cut off and solitary from the bustling street scenes outside. This allows for Kelly and DMC’s pieces to feel more real and suddenly far more pressing and relevant to today’s society.
Whether there’s hope or not for the city and its inhabitants, that seems to be left up to the viewer. Each work equally presents the positives and negatives of each setting. There is no denying, however, that DMC’s energetic, fluid and spontaneous paintwork offers some sort of colour to each scene, a little excitement and, perhaps, a little hope for an otherwise dying love.