Sponsors Dublin City Council Arts Council of Ireland Fire Canon Ireland

Human Rights & Photography

Human Rights and Photography: Roger Casement to the Second US-Iraq War
An illustrated talk which looks at the power of images to change society.
Presented in partnership with Amnesty International Ireland.

‘Misery Porn’: Can that accusation really be leveled at Roger Casement the first person to be given an honor by the British Government for what we now call human rights advocacy? Casement exposed King Leopold’s brutal colony in the Congo with a camera. Mark Twain writing about the event parodied, Leopold: “The incorruptible Kodak…. the only witness I couldn’t bribe.”

Since those days in the Congo, when the phrase ‘crimes against humanity’ was used for first time, photographers have continued to expose man’s inhumanity to man and their images have been put to a wide variety of uses, often far from that as originally conceived by the photographer.

This illustrated talk explores the role photographers have played in the advancement of human rights from the 19th to the 21st century. Today documentary photography now stands in an era when a camera phone snap of a drunk celebrity earns more than a five page picture essay. Where is its future?

With exercises designed to understand your response to the photographs one thing is certain, this talk will challenge the way you see, think and feel about images and will hopefully strengthen your understanding of images in human rights.

Hugh McElveen

Hugh McElveen has been a professional photographer and educator for 15 years during which time he has worked with ages from 9 to 90 at all levels from special needs outreach to degree level. Most notably he founded the Gallery of Photography’s Digital Imaging Program and lectured the Evolving Technologies module of the BA Photography program at IADT where he also contributed to the development of the syllabus. Hugh was education
officer for PhotoIreland Festival 2011 and was invited to talk at Belfast PhotoFestival 2011. In 2008 he cofounded the fine art print studio www.exhibitastudios.ie. Personal work is a mix of documentary and portraiture. He is currently working on a health rights documentary project and is revisiting the subjects of editorial portraits he photographed 10 years ago. He is also working on a year long outreach program with the Hugh Lane Gallery and Fighting Words.