Shia Conlon: I’ll Be Your Mirror

Shia Conlon: I’ll Be Your Mirror




12:00 – 17:00


clear sky

Shia Conlon
I’ll Be Your Mirror

Photographic Gallery Hippolyte

The photographs in Shia Conlon’s I’ll Be Your Mirror are a selection of works from multiple projects spanning five years made in collaboration with the artist’s queer and trans community. The exhibition’s title is named after Nan Goldin’s 1996 publication and pays homage to an influential queer elder while forming a bridge between queer pasts and the present moment. The title’s meaning, and what it references, highlight the specific importance of photography within queer communities as a tool for representing, dreaming, and archiving—a tool for unearthing histories as much as witnessing them unfold now.

In Nan Goldin’s work, the camera facilitates a form of reciprocity between the models and the photographer. The photographic process becomes a mirror in which the photographer facilitates moments of visibility for the sitters and the viewer. In this way, the images act as documents for archiving the community but also as a way of building it.

A camera is a complicated object; it holds power and comes with a heavy history. Even more complex is using this object to create visibility for historically invisible people. In what ways can a photographer use their tool without reproducing violent dynamics? Is it possible? Most of Conlon’s projects begin with an open call for models; in this manner, the work immediately begins on the basis of consent. From there, discussions and negotiations continue of how the shoot might go and what kind of images the artist and the person being photographed want to make together. Conlon works with these modes and questions in mind in an attempt to break down the hierarchy between the person behind the camera and the person in front.

Alongside themes of representation and consent, there is also the question of the queer body and its relationship to power. In some images, people appear to be struggling with one another, wrestling, tied together, or running away. Over time, different attitudes to power emerge. Softer landscapes appear and we see joy filtering in, when a person hangs childlike from a tree or is touched by the warm summer sun on their new chest. The exhibition shows moments of care, liberation, love, and lust.

There are nods to the transformative power of sex, kink, love, and of being trans in general. When so much of the media highlights moments of trauma and pain for the trans community, I’ll Be Your Mirror attempts to show a different reality. One where being trans is something to celebrate, something mundane, beautiful, mysterious, hot, fun, silent, and something undefinable.

Shia Conlon (b. 1990) is an Irish writer and artist based in Helsinki. His work has been centered around marginalized voices and growing up in the landscape of working-class Catholic Ireland. Conlon’s current research is focused on non-linear time and how to use the power of archives, language, and memory as tools for queer representation. His work is rooted in collaboration and would not exist without the vulnerability and openness of his queer and trans community. Conlon’s artworks and writings have been published in New York Times, i-D, Dazed and Confused, Huffington Post, Astra, Nuori Voima, Mustekala, Zelda, NO NIIN & more. More can be seen at  or Instagram @shiaconlon

The exhibition and artist’s work has been supported by Kone Foundation

Fri 03 Feb 2023 – 26 Feb 2023 12:00 – 17:00


clear sky

Yrjönkatu 8-10,
00120 Helsinki, Finland