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Susan
Opening Doors was a collaborative photographic project
with photographer Susan Gogan and members of Migrant
Rights Centre Ireland’s Domestic Workers Support Group.
Gogan
An exhibition of the work took place at the Gallery of
Photography, Dublin, 9th March – 5th April, 2007
Opening Doors
I was approached by Edel McGinley of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland because a
group of migrant domestic workers decided they would like to collaborate with an
artist in a project engaging with photography as an art practice. Based in Dublin,
the Domestic Workers Support Group consists of a core group of approximately
thirty women predominantly from the Philippines, but also from India, Pakistan,
Georgia and Trinidad and Tobago. The group was established in 2004 to address the
barriers for them in accessing social and economic rights. Most of them had very
little experience of the professional arts. However at the time we began the
photography project, they had just completed a quilt highlighting the problematic
areas of domestic work.
Edel was aware of my artistic practice to date and my interest in issues relating to
the changing demographic of Irish society. My work involves the creation of large
staged photographs examining the power structures and strategies of inclusion
and exclusion that are contained within the places where we live. When
approached by Migrants Rights Centre Ireland, I immediately recognised the
potential of the collaborative process to push my work in a new direction. The
project also presented an opportunity for the Domestic Workers Support Group to
take control of the domestic space and create their own symbolic references within
the work we would produce together. Through their active participation in cultural
production, photographic representation could be placed in the hands of the
women themselves.
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