Artist’s Statement

Augustine O’Donoghue is a visual artist based in Dublin who works across diverse media – from photography and documentary film to performance and installation. Her work engages with a range of local and global issues and is deeply informed by her involvement in political activism. Solidarity and social justice have become defining features of O’ Donoghue’s practice over the last two decades, with the artist demonstrating a fearless commitment to highlighting human rights issues and global inequalities. In championing those on the margins, the artist uses an array of socially engaged and collaborative approaches. Where possible and appropriate, she involves people in all stages of her projects, from research and development, to the dissemination of finished artworks in the public realm. She has previously created interdisciplinary projects with diverse communities, including refugees, migrant workers, travellers and social organisations across Ireland, Latin America and Africa.

Many of her projects are site-specific, with the capacity to respond to urgencies as they unfold. Some take place in active sites of global resistance – from refugee encampments in Algeria, to agrarian land occupation movements in Brazil. In an Irish context, O Donohue has been directly involved in a range of labour movements, anti-war demonstrations and environmental protests, including the Corrib gas protests in Rossport and the occupation of the Visteon Ford factory in Belfast. Other projects manifest as shrewd interventions in the public realm – described by O’Donoghue as ‘small acts of creative resistance’ – often staged in sites of governance, commerce or global capitalism, such as government buildings, shopping centres or corporate banks. In working outside traditional gallery spaces, O’Donoghue focuses her artistic agency on the artwork’s embedded interrelationships with its specific locality and communities. In this way, artworks operate within and beyond the art world, thus making visible alterative economies of production and circulation.

Film interview WDFF Augustine O Donoghue

O’Donoghue is codirector and founding member of Wexford Documentary Film Festival (est. 2012) – an annual film festival, screening films that highlight social, political and environmental issues. She is also cofounder of the Progressive Film Club (est. 2008), a not-for-profit film club, held at The New Theatre, Temple Bar, which is dedicated to showing exceptional film with an emphasis on human rights and social justice. A focus on workers’ rights has been evident throughout her career, coupled with a durational commitment to highlighting the living and working conditions of artists. Ongoing projects include: The Artists Toolkit (est. 2020), an artwork and practical toolkit for artists and art workers; and The Social Archive (est. 2002), a long-running archive of film and photographic documentation relating to social movements in Ireland, recorded from the perspective of artist as activist.

The artist has worked extensively across a range of educational contexts, developing collaborative projects and public artworks through methods of collective learning and participation. These have included a research-based archival and folklore project in a national school, and a year-long project with secondary school students, exploring scientific and ecological innovation. She has been guest lecturer and invited speaker at various third level institutions in Ireland. In 2020 she was appointed as Artist-in-Residence in the College of Engineering and Architecture at University College Dublin and in 2023 as Artist-in-Residence Data Stories Project in Maynooth University Social Science Institute.