Photographic and life history project, A Sikh Face in Ireland, was on view at the Chester Beatty Library from 7 May – 26 September (now extended). This multimedia exhibition was produced and supported by FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) in collaboration with photographer/oral historian, Dr Glenn Jordan, and researcher, Satwinder Singh.
A Sikh Face in Ireland is the first systematic exploration of the Sikh presence on the island of Ireland – providing both a profile of the present and a social and cultural history of Sikh immigrants and their descendants. The key themes of the exhibition included issues of culture, experience and identity. The exhibition illustrated that ‘being a Sikh’ is not a homogeneous experience; that people from similar backgrounds may live their identities in different ways. The exhibition portrayed men who do and do not wear turbans, further depicting generational and gender differences. More generally, it explored the lived experiences and narratives of people often perceived as ‘Other’ by members of the general public – especially since 9/11.
A series of parallel events designed in collaboration with the Chester Beatty Library’s Intercultural Education Programme builds on different objects in the exhibition: photographic portraits accompanied by life stories; a short film, ‘How to Tie a Turban’; a photographic and sound installation featuring contemporary Sikh musicians; an exhibition catalogue comprising essays, photographs, and extensive life stories in English and Punjabi; an interactive website designed for use in diverse educational settings, in addition to public workshops.
The project has been defined – in the context of a conversation with members of the Irish Sikh Council and FOMACS – as a contribution to anti-racist education and transcultural understanding.