In The Frame: Tony O’Shea – Stopped at traffic lights, Aungier Street

Posted January 18, 2023 in Arts and Culture


Tony O’Shea

Stopped at traffic lights, Aungier Street

On Good Friday of 1984 I was walking with another photographer at the junction of Aungier Street and Kevin Street when we saw what appeared to be a dog driving a motorcycle. This vision demanded a second and third look. Luckily the traffic had come to a halt at the traffic lights on Aungier Street. Of course there was a man sitting behind the dog but he was almost completely hidden by the dog at first glance.

To see a dog being carried as a passenger on a small motorcycle was unusual but what was spectacularly unusual was the positioning of the dog on the motorcycle. He was standing on the gearbox [?] with his hind legs but his front paws were resting on the handlebars in such a way that looked as if he was steering the bike. The whole scenario gave quite a jolt to notions we might have about perception and first impressions. It appeared as if the world had been taken apart but put back together according to a startlingly alternative model.

Everything happened very quickly, of course, but I had enough time to shoot four or five frames and I believe the bus driver facilitated me by waiting; I was after all standing in the middle of the road but luckily it was a quiet Good Friday. I didn’t have the chance to take everything in and, for example, didn’t notice until I made a print that there was a man sitting at the upstairs front window of the bus looking at me looking at this unusual arrangement between dog and human. As the Leonard Cohen song says, “there’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in”

Tony O’Shea’s The Light of Day, a career retrospective runs at Photo Museum Ireland until February 18.


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