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are to maintaining professionalism in their own working practices, and their acute
awareness of how important these images are in controlling how they are
perceived out in the world.
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland's Domestic Workers Support Group
Afterwards I narrowed down four or five rolls of film per shoot to a small selection
of prints to present to each group so that the final images for exhibition could be
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is a national organisation working with and for
chosen. We were all in agreement about which were the six strongest images after
migrant workers and their families. The mission of MRCI is to promote the conditions for
discussions about how each image met its criteria for success. The images were
social and economic inclusion and equality of migrant workers who are in situations of
selected on the basis of the relationship conveyed, overall composition, key props
vulnerability. In response to the growing reports of difficulties experienced by migrant
being visible, key tasks and skills being represented and overall authenticity of the
domestic workers, MRCI established the Domestic Workers Support Group (DWSG).
scene in terms of their own working practice. The black and white images were also
The DWSG is made up of migrant women employed in the private home as carers and
revisited at this stage with the whole group having a say in which images they
childminders. Participants come together in a supportive, safe and empowering
thought should enter into the final exhibition. Model releases were then signed by
environment, where they can share, analyse and reflect upon their experiences in order
everyone who had been asked permission to appear in the photographs (parents
to bring about change.To have a voice and be active agents in decision-making on the
signed on behalf of their children) to allow their exhibition and publication.
issues affecting their lives is paramount to the success of the group. The DWSG are
The final exhibition of the work was held at The Gallery of Photography. The
currently calling for the establishment of statutory protections that reflect the reality of
opening event on International Women’s Day 2007 was vitally important to
their working lives.
promote a sense of achievement, confidence and pride in the work. The gallery
opening was an unforgettable evening for all of us, topped off by a feature on RTÉ’s
Nine O’Clock News the same evening. African-American cultural theorist bell hooks
emphasises the importance of cultural production that centralises the interests and
experiences of marginalised groups. It is her belief that the enjoyment derived from
moving out of one’s designated “place” in society while watching or reading such
works is in itself a defiant political gesture that resists the dominant powers in
society. The Domestic Workers Support Group have taken hooks’ ideas a giant step
further. In the words of Elsa Fontanoz, one of the women who spoke publicly at the
opening that night, “…now we can finally be seen.”
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