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Mackenzie Reiss October 17, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ireland.

Avilla Park, a Traveller neighborhood on the outskirts of Dublin, 2010

Mackenzie Reiss (b. 1989, United States) got her first job as a reporter at 17, and has been hooked on visual story-telling ever since. Mackenzie studied photojournalism at Syracuse University, where she spent a semester abroad in London and Ireland to further her education in photography. The self-ascribed travel junkie has been to Ireland, South Africa, Serbia and Kosovo pursuing her dream of bringing awareness to social and humanitarian issues. Her work has been recognized by the National Press Photographer’s Association, College Photographer of the Year, the Alexia Foundation for World Peace, and the Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

About the Photograph:

“This image was taken during the first of many trips to Dublin. I first came to the city on a school trip, where we visited a Traveller’s rights center called Pavee Point. Initially, I just wanted to interview a Traveller named Michael Collins for a paper I was writing. Roughly half-an-hour into our chat, he asked if I wanted to see Avilla Park- a Traveller neighborhood on the outskirts of Dublin. He drove us there in a big white van, circling the neighborhood itself and pointing out the cracks in the stucco walls, the ethnic slurs graffitied on playground structures, and the general degradation of the place.”

“I noticed a lot of children playing in the streets, and pulled my camera out of my bag. I wanted to capture the paradox of Avilla Park: youthful faces among such a sad, gray environment. At first they were quite inquisitive, asking who I was, where I was from, etc. But when the novelty of “the American” wore off, they went back to their games and that’s when I shot this frame. I played a lot with windows in this series, and the idea of being on the outside, looking in, and vice versa. Although discrimination against the Travellers isn’t nearly as bad as it was, say 50 years ago, they are still isolated and looked down upon by the greater Irish community. I wanted to show that isolation through symbolism and mood, further emphasized by the black and white processing.”