Limerick, Ireland
Maeve McElligott, Newspaper Spread, 2007 - 2008, documnetation of newspaper project, 71 x 62 cm

Maeve McElligott


This work consists of a series of articles and mock documentary photographs taken of the artist as various social stereotypes – the dyke, the homeless drug addict, the single mum, the teenage Traveller and the posh councillor’s wife. The articles reference Limerick city, and are based on articles that have appeared in regional and national newspapers over the last two years.

For e v+ a, the articles and photographs appeared in the Limerick Post, a free community newspaper. They feature stories and issues that reflect the way in which the media can adopt and manipulate identity to create loaded stereotypes. The pink puff jacket and baseball cap of a young girl suggest to many that her social background is working class or itinerant. She is a one-dimensional character, a mannequin of how a Traveller teenager is perceived to live. Becoming these stereotypes I have seen how people’s reactions are affected by their perception of an image, action or situation. Does the media present stereotyped images as a means to identify and label particular social groups, such as the use of the term ‘disadvantaged’? Is stereotyping used as a means to suppress and keep the relations of power? Can art challenge stereotyped social identities? Does it contribute to these? How is identity created in the media?

(Text: too early for vacation catalogue, 2008)

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