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WORK OF THE WEEK | 08 April 2024  

CAG.2863 Doug DuBois, Sweeny Jumps into Cork Harbour, 2012, photograph, 84 x 102 cm. Purchased, Sirius Arts Centre, 2013. © the artist. 

Dive into this WORK OF THE WEEK! 

Sweeny Jumps into Cork Harbour (2012) by Doug DuBois is a large photograph that depicts a rite of passage at Cobh’s Deepwater Quay.   

The image features several teenagers gathered beneath a railway pedestrian bridge, as one of their number – Sweeny of the title – is captured, mid-leap, jumping into the deep waters of Cork Harbour. His movement is emphasised by being out of focus, while the rest of the scene is almost tense with stillness. 

Encapsulating a sense of both bravado and vulnerability, the photograph comes from the series My Last Day at Seventeen. This outcome of DuBois’ residency at Sirius Arts Centre (2009-14) responded to the youths of Cobh, particularly the residents of Russell Heights. 

As the artist stated at the time, ‘the place you grow up in is what forms you as an adult – coming of age is an experience that everyone goes through – it can happen at 17 or 12 or 45 but it’s that moment when you realise that your youth is behind you and no longer in front of you which can be a very difficult moment.’ 

The title of this work also recalls Buile Shuibhne, the Irish medieval tale Suibne mac Colmáin whose curse of wandering is characterised by flight. On one occasion, he even engages in a leaping context with Lonnog, the hag of the mill.  

Doug DuBois (b.1960) is an artist-photographer and associate professor at Syracuse University. He has published two monographs with the Aperture Foundation and his work is in the collections of MoMA, SFMOMA, J. Paul Getty Museum, LACMA, Library of Congress, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Crawford Art Gallery. 

Sweeny Jumps into Cork Harbour (2012) by Doug DuBois is featured in LIGHT AND SHADE until this Sunday 14 April.  

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