HOTSHOE's Joe Faulkner recently spoke to the Dublin based photographer Eamonn Doyle about his new exhibition END. currently on show at Michael Hoppen Gallery in Chelsea.
Joe Faulkner: Who has been the biggest single influence on your work?
Eamonn Doyle: It’s impossible for me to say really. You soak up so much over the years from photography, painting, literature etc. It’s difficult to know what does and what doesn’t filter through into the work. The photographic influences almost go without saying – William Eggleston, Saul Leiter, Josef Koudelka etc.
I’m usually more inspired and triggered into action by text rather than other imagery. I read a lot of Irish literature also.
IMAGE - END.Twins © Eamonn Doyle. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
JF: This series is based in your hometown of Dublin. Do you feel that your experience as an insider gives you a unique perspective?
ED: Maybe not unique, but perhaps different to someone from outside, who may have their own unique perspective themselves. I’ve been living in one particular part of the city for over 20 years but still feel like an outsider in many ways.
I’m personally more interested in photographers working in their own country, [with some notable exceptions of course], so I imagine I’ll continue to work in Ireland for the foreseeable future.
JF: Your work veers between a documentary style and a more experimental methodology. Could you talk me through the two approaches?
ED: I’ve taken a slightly different approach for each of the 3 books. In the first book I was trying to strip away some of the expected elements in street photography – background noise, obvious cues and signifiers and general context. I tried to flatten the figures into the pavements by photographing from above and behind. Mostly portrait photography finds is expressiveness in the face. I wanted the viewer to look harder and, if needs be, infer the missing faces themselves.
In the second book the city opened out a lot more. In the first book the figures are consumed with introspection, whereas in the second book the dramas are far more environmental. The rest of the world seems to have spilled in a lot more.
The third book brings into play a new set of elements – the paraphernalia of the street and urban consumerism – soft drink cups, cans, plastic bags, in stark contrast to the human figures depicted which are often obscured, hinted at or glimpsed only partially.
IMAGE - END.Orange © Eamonn Doyle. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
JF: Has your work with music, as founder of the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, impacted your practice as a photographer?
ED: It’s certainly has in terms of how I’d approach producing exhibitions or publishing books. I tend not to get too daunted by much after 10 years of producing the festival. Running the record label exposed me to the whole cottage industry, DIY ethic that still prevails in electronic music, so when I observed what was going on in the photobook / self publishing world it all seemed very familiar to me and I felt quite at home.
JF: I’m interested in what made you take such a long break from photography. What was it that prompted you to go back to image making?
ED: I kind of feel into music unintentionally in the early nineties while I was raising money to record a soundtrack for a film we were making. We wrote to about 600 people asking them for £10 each to fund the soundtrack – an early version of crowd funding! We received about £6000 back in the post, so we decided to buy our own recording studio instead of renting one out. One thing lead to another and within a few years we had a label, record shop, distribution, festival etc. So my photography plans took a back seat for about 20 years !
In the late 2000s I found myself struggling to run a music festival, which was quickly loosing funding due to the economic crash. I had never planned to be a curator or arts administrator, so it seemed like a good time for a change and starting photographing again.
IMAGE - END.Boy with Bag © Eamonn Doyle. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
JF: What inspired you to collaborate with Niall Sweeney and David Donohoe?
ED:I’ve been working with both of them for a long time now. Niall has been doing all the design for my record label D1 and the DEAF festival since 1994, as well as designing the first two books. David has been collaborating with me on music and has been producing music for D1 since the late 90s also.
The collaboration wasn’t really premeditated in advance. It seemed to come about naturally as we were preparing for my exhibit at Arles this summer. Niall is curating the show and David will be doing the sound installation.
JF: This is the final of the trilogy of books, why finish here?
ED: Well, it’s the end of the trilogy, and probably my work in Dublin city centre for a while, but it really just feels like the beginning of something else.
END. Runs at Michael Hoppen Gallery until 15 July.
All images Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
— Joe Faulkner