Pathfinder - a person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or way, especially through a previously unexplored or untraveled wilderness.
Pathfinders is an on-going national and cross-border project to create an archive of photographic portraits of the pioneer activists within the LGBT+ movement in Ireland.
The project has been self-funded by the artist/curator, Paul Connell, since December 2015. The current exhibition was financed through a two week FUNDIT campaign and with the assistance of the OPW and the Design Council who helped make this exhibition a reality.
The exhibition aims to recognise and personalise the legacy of older members of the LGBT+ community, and to acknowledge the contributions their lives and struggles have made to the political and social fabric of contemporary Irish society, helping pave the way for the many social changes which Ireland has witnessed in recent years.
Paul’s concept to photograph each sitter in exactly the same format and medium, creates a visual continuity within the exhibition but highlights the individuals in each of the portraits, which stand independently on their own rather than collectively as “the gay community”.
Paul shared: “The recent political advances made nationally suggested a timely need to revisit the aspirations of those early pioneers whose voices are not often recognised, and more often ignored, within the discourses of a current generation caught up in the rightful euphoria of social recognition and equality.
Having personally experienced the once unimaginable advances of the LGBT+ movement, I have also witnessed the naked hatred and ignorance the movement had to overcome in order to find its voice. In the current political atmosphere I find an ever greater importance to the words - ‘Lest we forget’.
To those courageous pioneers, whom I have discovered paid a heavy price for their vision and courage, I aim to give a visibility in recognition of their valuable contribution. Pathfinders is my testimony to their achievements.”
Pathfinders runs in the Coach House in Dublin Castle from August 24 to September 29. Admission is free.