The Photographic Story of Chair by Donal Moloney

Hannah Mullen
Posted December 18, 2012 in Arts & Culture Features

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Like most great projects, Chair came about by accident. Feeling somewhat suppressed by the limited creative reign in his advertising job, Irish photographer, Donal Moloney started a personal project, one that involved certain types of individuals in quirky settings. “It’s a slow process finding the right locations and the type of people I want,” says Moloney, one that involves research and preparation. Preparation such as driving around, scouring the country for suitable locations. Enter Chair. Chair was brought on one such trip as a person-substitute, a filler, while Moloney decided whether or not a location was impressive enough to be included in his project, and then until he found the right individual to grace the space. Suddenly Chair became a person, a person worthy not only of inclusion but of his own story as well; a story that can be followed and interpreted in a variety of different ways, with or without the provided text. The fact that chair is inanimate and inhuman perhaps offers the viewer a deeper connection with the subject. He is alone and vulnerable, something to which we all relate. If Chair was replaced with a human counterpart, too many similarities would be drawn and with this too many differences to fully relate to his story. I am not that old or that young, I have never been there, I don’t have brothers. By presenting us with something so inherently different to what we are, Moloney allows us to draw more comparability than would otherwise be afforded.

Moloney collides humour and light-heartedness with the emotive undertones of the project through both the images and text, reminding the viewer that there is no right or wrong way to feel about Chair’s story. What is emotive to one is hilarious to another and Moloney stresses how important personal interpretation is to him. No image is intended to make anyone feel a particular way and the interpretation is as important, creative and individualistic as the artwork itself.

We have witnessed Chair alone at the beach, unexpectedly in the ghetto, surrounded by less than friendly characters, in nature, in the kitchen, on public transport. There is no prescribed pattern, he is wandering through life, ambling along, finding himself, luckily or unluckily, wherever he arrives. The likeness between Chair’s story and the story of Chair is uncanny. It is a classic case of life imitating art or vice versa. Neither have a real plan, both are closing their eyes and feeling the way forward allowing the inevitable to happen while simultaneously enticing what has the possibility of passing by unnoticed. There are layers of life lesson and understanding embedded into The Story of Chair.

At first, there was an ambience of darkness surrounding Chair but Moloney has injected more humour and light into the life of Chair. After all, our own lives dip in and out of happy and sad so why shouldn’t Chair’s?

Moloney has hopes of an exhibition next year through which Chair’s experiences can be transmitted but until then follow the highs and lows on https://www.facebook.com/storyofchair

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