On May 14th an exhibition by photographer Kim Haughton ‘In Plain Sight – an installation about the legacy of child abuse in Ireland’ was opened in the Gallery of Photography, Dublin (Haughton, 2015). At the opening event the Gallery’s co-director Tanya Kiang (Gallery of Photography, 2015) introduced the artist to an assembled audience. Some of the people who Kim had photographed in the course of the project, survivors of child sexual abuse, were also present and spoke about their participation in the project and what it meant to them.
The catalogue accompanying the exhibition states:
In Plain Sight is a powerful and moving exhibition about the legacy of child abuse in Ireland. Made in collaboration with survivors, it is an important and timely challenge to the silence that still surrounds the issue.
The exhibition brings together landscape and portrait photography, family snapshots and audio recordings of survivors’ testimonies. Here, in their own words, survivors recount their stories of love, loss, injustice and forgiveness. Some survivors are photographed revisiting the locations where the abuse took place. These seemingly benign landscapes depict the mundane places of any Irish childhood. Now, however, irrevocably transformed into crime scenes and places of terror, they confront the viewer, raising uncomfortable questions of complicity and guilt and evoke powerful emotions of compassion, admiration, anger and outrage (Gallery of Photography, 2015a).
Kim recounted how the work began following a chance encounter with a man wearing devil horns and a priest’s collar outside a cathedral in Dublin. A victim of child abuse he was protesting about the lack of official investigation and response to the scandal. There followed a four year project in which she photographed in places throughout Ireland.
In the course of the discussion with the audience at the opening event the question was raised as to whether the photographs would stand as a monument to the victims of child abuse in Ireland; this is very relevant because attempts to make a more conventional monument have ended in controversy and rancour (Kelly, 2013).
This year Kim Haughton was named by TIME magazine as one of ‘nine Irish photographers to follow’ (Conway, 2015).
The exhibition continues at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin until May 31st 2015.
Images from the exhibition can be seen here:
Conway, Richard (2015) ‘Nine Irish Photographers You Need to Follow.’ In: TIME magazine [online] At: http://time.com/3726459/nine-irish-photographers-you-need-to-follow/ (Accessed on: 18.05.15)
Gallery of Photography (2015) At: http://www.galleryofphotography.ie/in_plain_sight/ (Accessed on: 18.05.15)
Gallery of Photography (2015a) In Plain Sight. Dublin: Gallery of Photography
Haughton, Kim (2015) In Plain Sight. Dublin: Gallery of Photography.
Kelly, Olivia (2013) ‘Dublin memorial to abuse victims refused permission’ In: The Irish Times [online] At: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/dublin-memorial-to-abuse-victims-refused-permission-1.1609187 (Accessed on: 18.05.15)