6pm Fri 8 July
9 July- 7 August

Rathfarnham Castle
D14 K3T6, Dublin

Opening Hours
Mon—Sun 9.30am—4.45pm



Inspirational Arts


Ladies & Gentlemen
Daragh Soden

In the performance of drag, binary gender roles (male/female, masculine/feminine) can be both subverted and confirmed, offering complex and sometimes contradictory interpretations. Some of the subjects identify as gender-fluid or non- binary and live an even more complex experience of ‘identity’, but the performance of drag typically involves imitating the role of the opposite gender. And despite its sometimes superficial and flamboyant appearance, drag has a history as a deeply personal and political act.

The work both documents and questions queer individuals’ performance of their own unique identities. Similarly, Soden sets out to question himself. As a queer person, he can relate to the subjects, however, there always remains a ‘distance’ between subject and photographer.

So instead of hiding behind the lens, Soden plays out his role in front of the camera, addressing the sometimes awkward relationship between the author and the subject.

Like the individuals in drag, Soden both subverts and confirms the roles expected of him. Whether as an admirer, collaborator, narcissist or voyeur, he explores different dynamics with each sitting, ranging from alpha-male dominance to passive servitude.

Paradoxical elements of the work are hinted at throughout. The photographer may be gagged, bound and naked under the heel of a queen, but is still in complete control of the image. Confronting and provoking the viewer with his gaze, questions about the picture making process are posed.

The idea of the photograph as a kind of mirror of the world and the idea of the mirror as an object of self knowledge are played upon. The subjects may even stand behind the camera, seen through their reflections, while the photographer sits awkwardly in front of the lens.

The power relations inherent in the act of photography are disrupted and dismantled. In one image the subject holds authority by means of the shutter release. It is left to the viewer to decide who is the author and who is the subject of the work.

About the Artist

Daragh Soden is an artist and photographer from Dublin, Ireland working in London. Ranging from fine art to fashion photography, his work deals with universal issues that often affect him personally. His approach to his art places specific, personal experience within the context of the universal. Using mainly still images, but also moving image, prose and poetry, Soden’s art practice could be described as a kind of search for truth. He sees his role as an artist as one to question existing social structures and to invite others to do the same. Soden’s Young Dubliners series, a combination of portraits and text, has been exhibited in Dublin, London and Paris. In 2017, he was awarded the Grand Prix du Jury at the prestigious Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival. In 2018, he exhibited his new work, Toulon, at the Villa Noailles in Hyères and then in Toulon, France. Soden continues to divide his time between personal fine art projects and fashion photography, each supporting the other.

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