Stargazing in Dublin

A fruitful Sunday afternoon which I spent updating my Visual Diary – and then treating myself cum daughter to a nice little exhibition. Seeing that we were shopping in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre anyway, I decided to head up to the top floor and check out that exhibition that the JDIFF is putting on in there at the moment. “Stargazing in Dublin” is a small exhibition of press photographs taken over the years in Dublin on the occasion of the annual Dublin International Film Festival.

My daughter was not exactly thrilled when I announced we were looking at a photo exhibition. “Oh no!”, she sighed. Photo exhibitions for her usually mean that mummy dearest is engrossed in images, spends minutes poring over one shot, pondering aperture and shutter speed and possibly then discussing particulars with other photography fanatics. Yes, she has learnt that the hard way over the past 30 months… And yet – there was no way out, up we went to the exhibition. “Who will be in the photos?”, she asked, in the vain hope that maybe there was someone in there she might recognise. “Ah, famous filmstars, I guess”, I answered. “Hm. You mean, like, Colin Firth?” I nodded. Like mother, like daughter – the poor kid already has been brainwashed and is familiar with mama’s favourite eyecandy. “OK”, she said, “but we are not staying long.” – And who should flash his bright smile from the third photo on the wall at us but Mr Firth himself? Now, that exhibition had already redeemed itself 30 seconds in…

Oooops, just an iPhone image, sorry.
Seriously, though, now. The exhibition is nothing that will shake the world of photography or the world of exhibitions, but I was interested in it also from the point of view of portrait photography: While a great many shots were simply red carpet-press call affairs, there were some really nice images that would go through as portraits. For instance a nice picture of Gabriel Byrne, B/W, bringing out the surly character of Mr Byrne, it seems. Angry young man, dark brooding Irishman. The figure in the background suggests that this really was just a shot taken on the street. And yet, with Byrne making contact with the lens, he strikes a pose and the image feels more like a portrait than a snap.
This being a quality-time-with-daughter-day, I had to keep the exhibition experience short and sweet. But the quick walk around was enough – after all these are images that were taken for the media, not for posterity, because we all know that today’s paper is tomorrow’s bin-liner. A quick look is all they want and need. There are plenty of well-known names in it – and the recognisability of the faces is something that delights anyone. Don’t expect masterpieces, though – it is just a bit of fun.
Stargazing in Dublin
Top Floor St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre,
Feb 3rd to Feb 26th

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