Eamonn Doyle i
Eamonn Doyle’s book i is a distinctive artist’s book, elegant and spare. The book is hardcover, taller than wide, stylish. The covers are a blue/greenish grey with Doyle’s name stamped in gold at the top and on the spine; the title in large font with the dot of the i leaning off the right side of the cover; a clever link to what we find inside.
There are five pages of endsheets, deep charcoal grey. The title appears on the 4th page, the colophon on the last, stamped in black ink. This limited edition of 750 copies is already sold out, according to Doyle’s website, which I perused for information regarding his whereabouts and accomplishments. Doyle is not only a photographer; he is a musician and producer, the founder of Dead Elvis Records, D1 recordings and the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, which he directs. He’s been photographing and making music for a quarter century.
The work has had great play in Ireland. The book launch was at The Library Project in Dublin, documents of which show large images on the wall and angled shelves of books, all open to different pages. The images were also shown in situ as an outdoor installation on O’Connell Street in Dublin this past March. I would like to have seen them in person, to experience their scale. The promo video (with sound) is very good.
These are street photographs, not in the usual sense, where a photographer captures in wide angle the antics and meshed gestures of many. Here the street is the background upon which single figures stand. (Or rather, lean). The streets become backdrop, grey slate with stripes and arrows, designs on the pavement. Doyle is more of a stalker than a flaneur.
The book is interesting- if a bit narrow- the images all taken in one place. Photographs of old people, elders: white haired and scarfed or balding and covered. Mostly all of the people are seen from above and behind, as if Death is looking over their shoulder. They are portraits in absentia of familiar strangers.
Beautiful paper, beautiful prints which leave only a thin frame of white, with lots of empty white pages between images. The elderly women are walking, seemingly hurrying, some carrying or pulling bundles that seem to drag them even further down than their postures. Some wear knitted caps, others colorful scarves; a nun wears a maroon wimple. The men, dressed in grey, blue, or brown, hatted or not are either walking or sitting.
The photographs are printed one to a double-page spread, either recto or verso, with the opposite page left stark white. The exceptions are two diptychs, one of two different men on similar benches facing opposite directions, seen from the front and the back; and another pair, the same bent-over old man in a grey overcoat, going from and coming towards us.
That the people are all slanted forward must refer to the title- the “i” is italicized- leaning right- a small i not capitalized: non-egocentric perhaps and certainly lonely, as these people seem to be. They appear to be going somewhere, on a daily errand, walking the street or just sitting, on modern metal benches, resting or expecting something; possibly a bus.
The deviation in this otherwise equally-paginated book are two sets of pure white pages- one of which opens into a fold-out of a man on a bench smoking a cigarette and reading a book. This man resembles Samuel Beckett. Like most of the rest of the people here, he is seen from the back and above. Waiting for Godot, perhaps.
Published by D1
Dublin, Ireland 2014
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