Review by Gerhard Clausing •
This photobook is a delightful symphony, a cinematic kaleidoscope, and all of that to present a dynamic portrait of a city. Eamonn Doyle has his roots in photography and painting, as well as in music creation and production, and this certainly has greatly enhanced this special work, which combines his three series i, ON, and End, all created in the last decade.
Doyle’s street photography, if you even want to call it that, goes way beyond what we have seen before in this genre. He absorbs the people of the street, found near his studio in Dublin, in a way that is comprehensive and caring, and he shows young and old, well-to-do and less so, subgroups of all kinds and backgrounds, mixed and subject to the rhythms of the city. The individual monochrome portraits are stunning, as you can see below. Color is used sparingly, in the tradition of painters like Kees van Dongen, who sometimes used the color red in otherwise monochrome paintings. The images Doyle shows us of the people of Dublin give us a sense of complexity and strife, but also of striving and possibilities.
And wouldn’t you know it, the talented designer Niall Sweeney here uses the color red to set off special pages containing prose vignettes by Kevin Barry as well as by overprinting some images with that color to help the flow of the book, which stays exciting from beginning to end. The sequencing and arrangement of visual elements in themselves constitute a model for how to structure a book to keep the viewer’s interest going. The graphic drawings are symbolic of struggles and challenges folks experience. Barry’s vignettes are so special, that each of them leaves you pondering your own past, present, and future, a really interesting enhancement of this photobook. The introduction by Sean O’Hagan effectively provides the context.
The three series from which the images are taken are presented in sequence. The series “i” shows the coping of older people in the city, moving on the pavement of life to eke out their existence. It seems that everyone is moving; it is up to the viewer to imagine their destinations and goals. Next is the project “ON” that features younger folks also, and is marked by strong portraits of individuals and groups. Where the first series was primarily photographed from a slightly elevated position, this set uses a variety of angles, all the way to very low. Patterns are sometimes added by the designer to show constraints and possibilities that city life provides, which also occurs in part 3, “END” which constitutes the final section. Here we again see some judicious use of color photographs, also some abstract work, and the movement approach is continued.
An absolutely enjoyable book, one that every “street photographer” can learn a lot from, most of all that the old rules can be broken, for the benefit of a more refreshing approach to an old subject. Most highly recommended!
Photographer: Eamonn Doyle, born and resides in Dublin, Ireland
Publisher: Thames & Hudson, New York, NY; © 2019
Essay: Sean O’Hagan
Prose vignettes: Kevin Barry
Hardbound, sewn; 272 pages, paginated, with 370 images; illustrated reference list with captions, dates, locations, and series identification; 8.5 x 11.7 inches; printed and bound in China by C&C Offset Printing Co.
Photobook designer and graphic artist: Niall Sweeney