Clare Gallagher, Csilla Klenyánszki: A Woman’s Work
As part of A Woman’s Work, an initiative funded by Creative Europe to consider the representation of women’s labour in all its forms – and our own curatorial focus on contemporary women’s practice – Gallery of Photography Ireland is delighted to present a new two-person exhibition of work by Clare Gallagher and Csilla Klenyánszki. The exhibition features Gallagher’s series The Second Shift and Klenyánszki’s Pillars of Home.
Viewable online here.
The term ‘second shift,’ from which title Gallagher’s work its title, refers to the hidden burden of housework and childcare primarily carried out by women on top of their paid employment. It is physical, mental and emotional labour which demands effort, skill and time but is unpaid, unaccounted for, unequally distributed and largely unrecognised.
Hidden in plain sight and veiled by familiarity and insignificance, this form of labour is largely absent from conventional photographic representations of home and family. Gallagher’s project is an attempt to recognise the complexity and value of this invisible work. It is a call for resistance to the capitalist, patriarchal and aesthetic systems that deny its intrinsic worth.
With Klenyánszki’s Pillars of Home the challenges of early motherhood are transformed into a game: the lack of time, the fragility of a new life, the weight of responsibility, changing identities, tension. The ‘pillars’ of the title are ninety-eight balancing sculptures, made during her son’s nap, when the family home – the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom or even the staircase – became a studio for no more than thirty minutes at a time.
The pillars rely on their own inner stability while being framed only by the floor and the ceiling. As the objects are being piled up, they become a coherent entity, but their delicate arrangement and balancing structure makes them vulnerable. They can be destroyed at any moment. The work addresses a singular dilemma: how does a mother find balance between all her priorities, a never-ending juggling act.
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