Winner: I went to the worst of bars... by Ciarán Óg Arnold

I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again is a diary of sorts, following men down piss alleyways and into empty bars. The photographer accompanies the seekers of oblivion, their lopsided faces caught between ecstasy and apathy, their mouths chasing after the numbness of inebriation.

This is Ballinasloe, a sandstone town on the River Suck in the easternmost corner of Galway in Ireland, seen through the eyes of a native, Ciarán Óg Arnold. Within the rabble, Arnold trails after the cast-offs, invisible men who spend their time in murky corners, choosing to do nothing but drift and drink. Ballinasloe is a mouth; in Irish, mouth of the ford, mouth of the crowds. “We claim to hate it here” , writes Arnold, “but the truth is that we choose to stay, hiding from reality, drowning in drink and wanting to be left alone as we await whatever fate is in store.”

Over the years, Ballinasloe has become a ghost town, its immobile economy holding back only the indifferent. Its empty clubs are the ordinary voids of an orthodox escapism, the unvarying nightly vocation that is also creeping annihilation. The town is haunted by the absence of those unseeable others, who have also departed – the suicide kids of Charles Bukowski’s poem, from which the book’s title is taken.

Ciarán Óg Arnold (b. 1977) is an Irish photographer who studied at the University of Ulster (MFA Photography, 2012). His work was included in ‘An Irish View’ at Rencontres d’Arles in 2009, and featured in Source magazine. As winner of the 2015 First Book Award, his book was published by MACK, and the work exhibited at Media Space, London. This is Arnold's first book.

More information

2015 Shortlist

Kevin Lear
A Glass Darkly
Tine Guns
The Diver
Ivars Gravlejs
Early Works
Ofer Wolberger
billie
Charlotte Tanguy
In a sense
Marguerite Bornhauser
Plastic Colors
Musa Nxumalo
In search of …
Vittorio Mortarotti
The First Day of Good Weather
Ciarán Óg Arnold
I went to the worst of bars...
Fine Bieler
Dreamlike Pictures with a Demand for Truth

Judges

Michael Mack
Michael has 20 years of art publishing experience as the managing director of Steidl and publisher of MACK. In 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Plymouth for his contribution to art publishing.

Greg Hobson
Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum, Bradford, Greg Hobson leads the Museum's curatorial team in the conception and content delivery of its curatorial programme of exhibitions, displays and associated events.

Polly Fleury
Polly Fleury is Director of Special Projects at the Wilson Centre for Photography where she works closely with museums, artists, galleries and publishers bringing historical and contemporary photography to public view.

Simon Baker
Simon Baker is curator of photography and international art, Tate. Prior to becoming Tate’s first curator of photography in 2009 he was Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham. He has also curated photographic exhibitions internationally and has written widely on both photography and contemporary art.

Lucy Moore
Lucy Moore is the director of Claire de Rouen. She studied fine art at Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, and writes frequently as well as directing the bookshop and its new publishing imprint. In June 2014 she curated a new art book fair for the ICA, Room&Book. Bel Jacobs has interviewed her, and Norbert Schoerner is soon to take her portrait.

Nominators for 2015:

Abe Mari
Alam Shahidul
Vince Aletti
Pedro Alfacinha
Allana Rahaab
Regina Maria Anzenberger
Asada Masashi
Asturias Andres
Sharon Matt Atkins
Gerry Badger
Maria Baibakova
Simon Bainbridge
Quentin Bajac
Arnis Balcus
Sheyi Bankale
Saleh Barakat
Bjarne Bare
Martin Barnes
Christine Barthe
Sam Barzilay
Kris Belden-Adams
Jack Bell
Marc Joseph Berg
Blanca Bernheimer
Rory Bester
Tobia Bezzola
Xu Bing
Elisabeth Biondi
Vladimir Birgus
Gil Blank
Rut Blees
Phil Block
Li Bo
Daria Bonera
Enrico Bossan
Yannick Bouillis
Sophie Boursat
Anne-Marie Bouttiaux
Emma Bowkett
Bri + Brown
Marcelo Brousse
Joachim Brohm
Didier Brousse
Lee-Ann Buckskin
Ben Burbridge
Claude Bussac
Olivier Cablat
David Campany
Levent Calikoglu
Iata Cannabrava
Maria Canudas
Chiara Carboni
Stefano Capodici
Rafael Cardoso
Ricardo Cases
Naomi Cass
Alexandre Castant
Melissa Catanese
David Chandler
Zelda Cheatle
Eder Chiodetto
Hans D. Christ
Christiane Monarchi
Joshua Chuang
Arnaud Claass
Anna Clarén
Louise Clements
Remi Coignet
Jörg Colberg
Matthew Connors
Sean Corcoran
Charlotte Cotton
Julian Cox
Simon Crocker
Marta Daho
Devika Daulet-Singh
Lucy Davies
Clara de Tezanos
Luc Debraine
Kathryn Del Boccio
Janet Delaney
Thomas Demand
Iason Demos
Fariba Derakhshani
Philip Dodd
Inaki Domingo
Elie Domit
Karen Downey
Diane Dufour
John Duncan
Ben Eastham
Natasha Egan
Richard Emblin
Julieta Escardó
Ute Eskildsen
Juan Jose Estrada
Jason Evans
William Ewing
Christine Eyene
Alexis Fabry
Simon and Kalle Sanner
Rogerio Faissal
Michael Famighetti
Pierre Fantys
Horácio Fernandez
Mariona Fernandez
Elisabeth Ferrer
Brad Feuerhelm
Marc Feustel
Judy Fiskin
Eva Fisli
Polly Fleury
Joan Fontcuberta
Anna Fox

Stephen Frailey
Helen Frajman
Charles Freger
Julien Frydman
Elvis Fuentes
Tamar Garb
Nathaniel Gaskell
Shadi Ghadirian
Joseph Ghosn
Marta Gili
Alexie Glass-Kantor
Mark Godfery
Vicki Goldberg
Nili Goren
Yumi Goto
Clare Grafik
Paul Graham
Kerryn Greenberg
David Griffin
Linda Groom
Walter Guadagnini
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
William Guerrieri
Guido Guidi
Claudi Carreras Guillén
Greg Halpern
Atsushi Hamanaka
Steven Harris
Sebastian Arthur Hau
Annika von Hauswolff
Marvin Heiferman
Nathalie Herschdorfer
Todd Hido
Jennifer Higgie
Darius Himes
Francis Hodgson
Maja Hoffman
Felix Hoffmann
Takashi Homma
Amanda Hopkinson
Roberto Huarcaya
Jessica Hubbard Marr
W. M. Hunt
Isabella Icoz
Vangelis Ioakimidis
Karen Irvine
Nandita Jaishankar
Pete James
Mia Jankowicz
Liz Jobey
Véronique Joo Aisenberg
Ron Jude
Frank Kalero
Michiko Kasahara
Mindaugas Kavaliauskas
Milo Keller
Erik Kessels
Tanya Kiang
Oliver Kielmayer
Sunjung Kim
Shiho Kito
Deborah Klochko
Takayuki Kobayashi
Martin Kollar
Bohnchang Koo
Diana Korchien
Olga Korsunova
Antonin Kratochvil
Michket Krifa
Marloes Krijnen
Nicolette Kwok
Jeff Ladd
Nadira Laggoune
Arnaud Lajeunie
Trish Lambe
Suzanne Landau
Christy Lange
Shane Lavalette
Jiyoon Lee
Wiebke Leister
Pablo León de la Barra
Szewan Leung
Carrie Levy
Armin Linke
Roberto Linsker
David Little
Walter Liva
Celina Lunsford
Beral Madra
Sérgio Mah
Aida Mahmudova
Mauricio Maille
Michel Mallard
Shoair Mavlian
Stephen Mayes
Kiki Mazzucchelli
Rebecca McClelland
Scott McLeod
Anne McNeill
Elisa Medde
Hans van der Meer
Michael Mehl
Susan Meiselas
Zuzana Meisnerová Wismer
Luiza Mello
Antigoni Memou
Patricia Mendoza
Jeanne Mercier
Pedro Meyer
Julie Millowick
Cristina Mittermeier
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio
Sebastien Montabonel
Alexander Montague-Sparey

Kate Montgomery
Jeff Moorfoot
Stavros Moresopoulos
Hollman Morris
John Mraz
Marianne Mueller
Nicholas Muellner
Andreas Müller-Pohle
Linda Fregni Nagler
Riason Naidoo
Jean Yves Navel
Moritz Neumüller
Cheryl Newman
Elaine Ng
Greger Ulf Nilson
Heejin No
Laura Noble
Thyago Nogueira
Alison Nordstrom
Giorgio Di Noto
Erin O’Toole
Sean O’Toole
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Filipa Oliveira
Gonzalo Olmos
Maurice Ortega
Max Pam
Tod Papageroge
Ahndraya Parlato
Martin Parr
Paz Valeria
Adeline Pelletier
Peng & Chen
Timothy Persons
Sandra S. Phillippe
Guillaume Piens
Fiorenza Pinna
Aleix Plademunt
Nicolette du Plessis
Bernard Plossu
Rui Prata
Marc Prüst
G. H. Rabbath
Jo Ractliffe
Cristiano Raimondi
N. Ramirez de Arellano Conde
Véronique Rautenberg
Fiona Rogers
Yasmina Reggad
António Pinto Ribeiro
Olivier Richon
José Roca
Julian Rodriguez
Ali Pooladi
Somayeh Rokhgireh
Miriam Romais
Jeff L. Rosenheim
Henry Roy
Mark Ruwedel
Bittu Sahgal
Britt Salvesen
Khaled Samawi
Tiago Santana
Mattias Wallin
Helena Savio
Richard Sawdon-Smith
Inka Schube
Mark Sealy
Helen Sear
Laura Sérani
Tate Shaw
Nadya Sheremetova
Stephen Shore
Farah Siddiqui
Dayanita Singh
Agnès Sire
Matthew Sleeth
Steve Smith
Miki Soejima
Alec Soth
Antoine Soubrier
Jem Southam
Urs Stahel
David Strettell
Miwa Susuda
Satoshi Tabuchhi
Julia Tedroff
Joël Tettamanti
Clara de Tezanos
RichardTorchia
Leos Valka
Maco Vargas
Ivan Vartanian
Laurence Vecten
Fosi Vegue
Dragana Vujanovic
Jo Ann Walters
Terri Weifenbach
Marta Weiss
James Welling
Thomas Weski
Anne Williams
Vanessa Winship
Matt Wittovsky
Duncan Wooldridge
Tim B. Wride
Sophie Wright
Antonio Xoubanova
Francesco Zanot
Alexis Zavialoff
Anna Zekria
Cristina Zelich