One of the first things I noticed about Dublin was the stickers on the sign posts and traffic lights, little pieces of art and messaging waiting for curious pedestrians to stop and really look at or to only catch for a moment and question before they’re gone. Every few blocks down the street I live on, right at eye level on various surfaces, are small white rectangles with hand written notes. “Let trans kids grow.” “LGBT with the T.” “Trans women are women.” “You are loved.” I can’t decide if they are as frequent as I think or it’s just that they only catch my eye specfically. It feels like the city is saying “Hello! I see you. Welcome.” There are funny ones too, jokes and warnings, like “TERF/fart—both trash.” They all send the same message that someone, individually, took the time to write these little love letters and scatter the city with their kindness.
These aren’t the only street art in Dublin; the city is covered in building sized murals and painted electrical boxes. Art is everywhere. One of my favorite graffiti tags is a little character, a blob of a guy, with big eyes that peek out over sidewalks and building corners.
Public art, whether it is commissioned or spontaneous, is a form of communication. Everyone has access to it, everyone can enjoy it, and everyone can take a different meaning from it. Union membership flyers and painted flocks of pigeons all add to a tapestry of thought and color.
I would include Dublin’s statues, especially the ones that line O’Connell Street, as part of the larger collection of public art. These statues hold an important part of Ireland’s history. Most of them depict famous Irish figures towering above the buses and train tracks where old British statues used to stand. After Ireland fought and gained independence in the early 20th century, symbols of British imperial rule were scrubbed clean. Streets and bridges were renamed after Irish icons, like Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. Statues were erected like the one of Jim Larkin, a workers rights activist, who stands in bronze with his hands raised on O’Connell Street.
Photography of Dublin’s public art was the first photo essay I started this semester and working on it has changed the way I see the streets, taking in every detail to build up the landscape in my memory.
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<p>Hello! My name is Izzy (they/them) and I’m a senior studying anthropology at Indiana University. Within anthropology, I’m particularly interested in storytelling, intersectionality, and modern concepts of gender. I am studying overseas as a part of the IES Dublin- Irish Studies program in the Fall of 2021. I’m excited to share my adventures and discoveries during my time in Dublin. In my free time, I enjoy listening to alternative music, reading the same 4 books over and over again, and attempting to learn random languages before getting distracted after a few weeks.</p>