Monitoring the mugs

 

Crowds from the Gallery of Photography spill out on to Meeting House Square in Temple Bar. Inside, people squeeze by each other on staircases and corridors. Director of the gallery, Tanya Kiang, is pleasantly surprised with the scrum at the opening evening of the new "Monitor" exhibition was going to be. Sitting downstairs, she observes the guests on the first-floor gallery on the security monitor, while upstairs the guests themselves are watching pre-recorded video and CCTV footage with the crackling of audio-scanning installations in the background.

"It's more like an incident room at a Garda station than a gallery," remarks one punter, gazing at the line-up of mug shots along the walls. Another guest mumbles how embarrassing it could be to discover your own mug staring back at you from the wall. A cell-style room features a desk, telephone and notice-board covered with headshots. A collaborative exhibition by three Irish artists - Anthony Haughey, Paul Nulty and John Drew - the focus of "Monitor" is surveillance and an exploration of its increasingly pervasive presence.

However, two-month-old Manus Haughey steals the limelight, with his gorgeous smile and big shock of red hair detracting attention from the work of his father, Anthony. How can an artist compete? Among the viewers are artists, photographers and students. Half-French, half-Swiss Natalie Rochat from the Dublin Arts office is here admiring the exhibition, as is EV+A award-winning photographer, Ann Marie Curran. The editor of CIRCA Art Magazine, Stephen McBride, is here to check out this latest work.