Most of the days of the year, the streets of Dublin are an amalgam of colors pasted in a sunless canvas, but this natural deprivation of sun, doesn’t hold life to emerge and fill the streets with human interaction, rich and diverse that at many times of the day, if we slow down the walking pace, there’s a feeling of waves of people coming towards in our direction to wash us into the side of the road. If we take the time to carefully observe and feel the street energy, there’s a common place that sustains all this human life and barriers these irregular journeys. The SIDEWALKS.
For myself, who roamed many times aimlessly (in geographic direction, but not in purpose), these sidewalks now form a body of stories, a collection of faces stored in my mind and also situations when a split of a second captured, resulted in an image, that describes truthfully, the candid essence of the streets of Dublin.
These streets, didn’t just gave me the pictures. I also kept the experience of failure that help me to grow and persevere as a photographer. I hold the stories, where sometimes, I jumped in, without knowing that an interaction with different lives resulted in a more fulfilling experience to my passage through Dublin.
One of the days, while taking a moment to rest in O’Connell Street, next to a newsstand, I notice a man in his forties using crutches. He didn’t looked good in shape and his face was very pale and wore the signs of long years from the lack of sun and also what it seemed a hardened life. Not only his figure captured my attention, but also, in one of his crutch handles, he manually carved a black cross. I asked him, why did he carved the cross symbol in there. He very promptly and also very proud replied, “– I’m a Catholic, that´s why!” His answer was the fuse to start a conversation and he told me that he’s been living all his life in Dublin and never have left the city. I told him that I was collecting pictures from the streets of Dublin and that I took interest of the daily life and also people walking in O’Connell Street. He answered to this with taunt, saying, “- Dublin! Might as well call it Hell!” I immediately realized that this man hold a few grudges against Dublin and his answer confirmed what I suspected about his hardened life in the city and a few moments after his statement he faces me and say, “- Let me show you this.” and he rolled up the sleeve of his trainer jacket and presented his arm covered in scars. Knife scars. Then stated with a bit of resentment and anger, “- Women are crazy!”. Dozen of small scars covering his arm, resembling lashes from a whip. While looking at his arm, he was saying that he didn’t expect that a discussion with his now ex-girlfriend could meet that ending.
Not knowing exactly what to say to this man, I could only phrase that I was sorry for the incident and felt supportive for him, as his voice changed to a hopeless tone while facing his own arms, bearing such definitive markings. Seconds after, he asks me something that strike me awkward and I immediately said that I didn’t understood, so he could ask again and I could confirm what I’ve just heard.
“Do you know any girl that would like to know me?” he said again and I noticed he was a little embarrassed by having to repeat it. Having confirmed that I have heard it correctly the first time, I couldn’t help to feel compassionate but had to tell him that unfortunately I didn’t know any girls available that I could introduce him. Now I was the one felling terribly awkward and strange answering to his question. He promptly replied to end the subject that it wasn’t a problem and that he was only feeling lonely and he wished that he could meet a nice girl. We continued to talk about other things, but in my mind I was still processing his request. A few moments later, his bus appeared and we said goodbye and part ways.
This episode didn’t gave me the candid picture that I was chasing, but like many other stories if you know your ways north and south of the Liffey, you’ll find that Dublin is a city filled with lives like the images shown here, that mirror a contrasting and sometimes flawed, but real humanity.
To know more about Ricardo Peixeiro’s work, please visit his official website.