Photography Proposal – The Immigrant Experiment


“This has been the century of strangers, brown, yellow and white. This has been the century of the great immigrant experiment”. This famous quote from Zadie Smith’s book ‘White Teeth’ truly expresses how the world has been slowly moving towards becoming one large ‘multi-cultural’ society due to immigration.

In 2014, the total number of new applications for visas, residence and citizenship received by the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Services of Ireland reached record levels. People from over 112 different countries applied for these visa’s including people from India, Indonesia and China. These figures truly illustrate how the management and operation of an effective immigration system is important to move towards a multi-cultural society. As immigration services are being constantly reformed many people fall between the cracks and are forced to continuously re-apply through various departments. My project will focus on these people as I intend to shed some light on the problems facing those who are forced to re-consider Ireland as their home.

This project will primarily take place in Dublin City as the number of non-Irish nationals living in Dublin has doubled in the last decade. I intend on taking photographs of people who are currently applying for visas outside the Garda National Immigration Bureau(GNIB) on Burgh Quay in Dublin. I hope to photograph people as they queue in these early morning queues with the hope of receiving one of the Bureaus sought after tickets. I will interview each person that I take photographs of in the hopes of  displaying their emotions towards their imminent positions.I will take these photos using the best light available to me (be it a street lamp or a camera flash). I hope to get to know these people and their stories in order to show them along side my photographs. I plan to take photos of the silhouettes of the people who are not willing to show their face to also represent the embarrassment some are forced to face as their presence in this country is left uncertain. This will mainly take place between December 2015, and March 2016.

As mentioned previously, I believe that the management and operation of an effective immigration system is incredibly important to our State, but I also believe that reforms need to be put into place to protect those who fall in between the cracks for not ticking ‘specific boxes’. With my project I hope to give more insight into the circumstances of these people so that a better reform can be put in place to protect them.

This work will eventually be developed into a book aimed at Irish people who are interested in immigration reform in Ireland; people who hope to make Ireland their home; and people who are looking for evidence to show that the diversity in how visas are granted is uneven.

As mentioned above, I will photograph those who are forced to reconsider Ireland as their home as they are required to re-apply for visas and residency continuously. The theme of immigration and the unequal and irregular amount that are granted is ever present in this project, as I myself will be confronted with my own family’s history; Coming from a long line of immigrants from both Japan and Italy.


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