“I want situations to appear in my photos as similar as possible to how I encountered them in the moment, but without any kind of rose-colored view that I might have had at the time,” Claire McWeeney explained about her approach to photography. Indeed, honesty pervades her photographs, which vary in subject from rural Irish culture to everyday intimate activities.
When discussing a recent photographic series constructed during the Women’s March in Washington DC, she revealed her images sought to “capture the idea of modern patriotism with the foundation of American exceptionalism, and how that forms an inauthentic unity, stemmed from Trump’s divisive rhetoric.” In one image she presents a young Trump supporter clad in a shirt which screamed “Fuck you!” to onlookers; a poignant example of the anger and aggression which consumed the politicised day. Another Trump-supporting subject wears an eroticised picture of Marilyn Monroe on his chest, creating a dejected contrast to the context of the Women’s March gathering around him. She noted that the excess in merchandise saturating the inauguration day made the occasion reminiscent to a sporting event because people became removed from the political consequences of the day in the sea of consumerism. A further image depicts a pile of patriotic hats laying to rest of a trash bag; a prophetic representation of the decay of democracy and American freedom. These images convey McWeeney’s ability to provide an objective insight into the reality of unsettling public events.
McWeeney has also recorded her experiences of rural Ireland, where her immigrant parents hail from. In “Irish Kids” and “Fiddle Players” McWeeney contrasts generations to convey the importance of music in rural Irish communities. She picks up on the small details of the faded Irish aesthetic, such as the flowers which line the windows along the Dublin streets. In “granny’s room” Mcweeney creates a time warp of dated wallpaper and a reconnection to her catholic Irish roots.
“Most people like themselves and things to be presented in ideal way — and I don’t find my type of photography unflattering, but just rather frank.” This is a sigh of relief in a world where carefully staged Instagram photographs permeate modern photography. Moreover, McWeeney’s attention to detail within her photography provides a sincere account of the often disregarded intimacy of every day life. In photographs such as “kilt beer” and “hand food” she uses close up images of hands and feet to portray raw human connections. “I like to capture my experiences in an abrupt way, kind of like the opposite of glamour,” and it is these abrupt encounters that make McWeeney’s work a contribution to a more honest fold in contemporary photography.