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Breath In, Breath Out

[Vimeo 8764887]

Worker at the HP Factory in Leixlip, Ireland

Photographer Mark Curran has been documenting the profound change in Ireland since the beginning of the “Celtic Tiger” economic boom of the early 1990s.  Over that time, he has captured the construction boom, which has doubled the housing stock in the past decade.

Prior to the boom, most of the youth of Ireland would consider a move out of Ireland to find work.  Curran was no exception, migrating to Canada with his father and sister at age 19.  As I immigrant he held on to romantic notions of his homeland; memories that were contradicted by the reality of the boom.  High-tech industries moved in to take advantage of the cheap workforce so many chose to stay.

In his recent work, “The Breathing Factory”, Curran captures the workers and environment at a Hewlett-Packard plant in Leixlip, Ireland and its business practice to expand and shrink the workforce to react to demand.  The photographs are a mix of portraits and factory landscapes he took over the course of 20 months with each image having made it past corporate management.   Curran dismissed my questions of control by saying they were concerned about the theft of intellectual property.   He wanted to focus the conversation on the impact these multinational corporations on the communities they reside.

Along side those images, interviews with workers and management are on display, shedding like in the new reality of instability.  A point made more clear when you realize the productions lines captured are constantly being modified, in affect making the works history by the time the project was completed.  Make you want to take a moment and catch my breath, doesn’t it?

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