During the period from 1995 to 2007—when Ireland’s economy became widely known as the “Celtic Tiger”—Ireland went from being one of the poorest countries in the EU to one of the richest.
From 1995 to 2000, Ireland’s GDP grew at a rate between 7.8 and 11.5%. From 2001 to 2007, it slowed to a “mere” 4.4%-6.5%. To put it differently, 2004 saw the construction of 80,000 new homes in Ireland, compared to the United Kingdom’s 160,000 in that same year. The UK’s population is 15 times greater than Ireland’s.
Although many different reasons have been cited as the cause for this economic boom, one concrete answer lies in the influx of international companies, particularly to Dublin. From Amazon to Google to LinkedIn, tech companies flooded into the city, attracted by the low corporate tax rate. With this influx of money and jobs came a corresponding boom in construction. When the money began to dry up in 2008 (due to the Great Recession), many construction projects were stopped dead. Unfinished dreams, modern ruins began to dot the landscape.
In Fallout, Savage has photographed the interior of luxury office spaces that were completed but never occupied. These photographs were made either at daybreak or dusk so that Savage could take advantage of all-natural light. This even, diffused light allows the photographs to eliminate the distinction between inside and outside, creating complexly layered landscapes. In these twilit, reflected spaces, we come to understand the ambiguities of Ireland’s boom, the shifting substance of anything that’s too good to be true.
Editors’ Note: We first met Johnny Savage, and discovered his work, during portfolio reviews at the excellent PhotoIreland in Dublin.