Selfies at the Pearse Museum – it’s nothing new


Self Portrait with Ritual Mask
Self Portrait with Ritual Mask (iii) by Kate Murphy


Selfies, selfies and more selfies – it seems like everyone’s at it these days. Self portrait photographs, usually taken by mobile phone, any time, any place, anywhere… but you know, it’s nothing new. Do you remember those camera booths for taking passport photos? They were all the rage at one time. See below, that’s one I got done, a long time ago, long before mobile phones. I’d say that I didn’t even have a passport those days but I suppose, I just wanted to check out how I looked. Is that what it’s about? – or is it something to do with wanting to control how we are perceived?

Anyway, you’re probably wondering about the strange character in the image above. This is one of the paintings in  The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project, at the Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham. It’s by Kate Murphy and there are 3 of these extraordinary paintings in the exhibition, depicting the artist wearing primitive, animalistic masks.

Kate writes: “the paintings attempt to express the tension between public and private personae. While the mask conceals inner, primitive instincts or ‘flaws’, the very wearing of it suggests that there is something to hide. At the same time, the anonymity afforded by a mask allows its wearer to project desirable elements of the self”. She is also making a reference here to Patrick Pearse’s iconic portraits and how he avoided being photographed face-on (so as to conceal his pronounced squint).

photograph of young me by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now, I don’t have a squint – although one eye does seem bigger than the other, here – but don’t we all have our “best” side? A lot of us don’t like being photographed at all, especially if we’re not prepared. Is it because someone else is deciding how we look? Someone else is in control? What do you think? I’d love to hear your views.

But have a look also at Kate Murphy’s website at:

And don’t forget that The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project, curated by Claire Halpin and myself, continues at the Pearse Museum until the end of November. The museum is open every day except Tuesday, from 9.30 – 5.30pm. Drop out for a visit, it’s in St.Enda’s Park in Rathfarnham and there’s a nice coffee shop there too.






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