Wednesday, 13 February 2019

REPLY ALL: A Photography Series by Michelle Pawlosky

Michelle Pawlowsky is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montreal, Canada. She is currently studying photography, and frequently works with themes surrounding womanhood, identity, relationships, and her inner world. 

Reply All is an ongoing series that aims to explore women's ubiquitous experiences with harassment, assault, and other forms of aggression. This body of work examines the relationships between words and images, and is both about the act of declaration and the healing process that exists as a result. 

I was really drawn to the immediacy of Michelle's photography style - it demands attention. I find it really interesting how she combines still life, documentary, and lettering to portray an honest version of the human experience.

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Reply All Michelle Pawlosky

Check out more of her work on her instagram: @michellepawlowsky


Monday, 4 February 2019

The Cultural Identity Crisis in Northern Irish Youth

I think I always knew I was a Catholic, but never really understood what that word actually meant. I grew up in a mixed area but attended a Catholic school, which meant I was sort of in a little bubble, not yet exposed to all the different cultural identities I would meet in this world.

It wasn't until I began secondary school that I was bombarded with a confusing question - are you a Catholic or a Protestant? I knew my answer, but I didn't know what the other one meant. Is there a right and wrong answer? The tone of the question made it seem like there was. It caused me to question what being a Catholic actually meant.

I've never been particularly religious, but I also never really questioned my beliefs up until this point. I soon came to realise that it wasn't necessarily a matter of religion. I'm so glad that I wasn't raised to be sectarian and biased, to the point where I was hardly even aware of what 'The Troubles' was. It made me more open minded, more curious as to what it meant to be a Protestant, rather than simply believing it was the 'wrong' side. 

Although it never bothered me, it seemed to be a hot topic for a lot of my peers. I can remember vividly the excitement of going to under 18 discos, but it always came along with fear of saying the 'wrong' answer. For whatever bizarre reason, depending on who asked you, the wrong answer could get you into an unprovoked fight - simply because of religion. Keep in mind we were all about 12/13 years old.

What always frustrated me was the fact that people didn't even know what it was that they were arguing about and had no idea of the history behind it. Most people my age were just absorbing everything their parents felt towards the other side. It was from The Troubles that our generation became the by-product of parent's passion and bitterness. 

In recent years I've noticed that this religious elephant in the room, this clash of identities hasn't been as prevalent in my life, however whether this is due to growing up or a change in the times is hard to tell. I often wonder if 12 year olds now still fixate on that burning question.

If I'm being totally honest, I'm still really unsure of how I identify. I've ultimately been given 3 options:
1) British
2) Irish

3) Northern Irish

All of these have preconceptions and connotations added to them. Technically I'm British/Northern Irish, but I relate much more to Irish culture in traditions from the way I was brought up. I'm almost scared to offend anyone. For now I identify as Northern Irish, but I still struggle massively to separate cultural identity from national/geographical identity. I think a lot of people in my generation feel this way.

(Study done by the BBC)

Rather than just focusing on my own opinions and experiences and articles made by old journalists who want to paint youth a certain way, I thought it would be interesting to ask you your thoughts on this on instagram polls, and the answers were really interesting:

I was quite surprised at some of the answers, like how despite the fact Northern Ireland is basically in limbo at the minute, majority of us have quite a strong sense of who we are and how we identify. Despite wishing we knew more about the current political climate of N.I, we have quite a strong interest in politics.

Despite all the endless articles claiming we don't have a notion what we are, it seems that there isn't really a cultural identity crisis in young people after all.

By Orlagh McCloskey

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