Caoimhín Gaffney is an award-winning artist working with the still and moving image, based between Cavan and Belfast, whose work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals internationally.They graduated from Technological University Dublin with BA Fine Art in 2008 and from the Royal College of Art’s MA Photography and Moving Image with distinction in 2011. In 2014 they were an UNESCO-Aschberg laureate artist-in-residence at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Changdong residency in South Korea and their work was shown in two solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Institute CAI02 in Japan (2014 & 2018).

Gaffney’s work has been shown at the Cork Film Festival (2016 & 2018), the 10th Imagine Science Film Festival (New York, 2017) and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2021), where it is part of the collection. A monograph of their work, Unseen By My Open Eyes, was published in 2017. They recently completed a practice-led PhD on queer artist filmmaking at Ulster University, and this work was shown in a solo exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork (2021).

“My work in the still and moving-image uses inward-looking meditations with surreal scenes and images to envision alternative ways of being and worlds with their own logic and possibilities. The texts and scripts I write are often without traditional narratives or character arcs, aiming to create an unsettled terrain that reflects the unsettled and uncomfortable emotions and sensations they discuss. Often the characters’ roles – or way of performing – change from scene to scene, creating an ambiguity that reflects on the shifting nature of identity and which draws attention to the constructed nature of cinema itself. Archival footage is intercut to disrupt the films’ representation of time and space, and to create both connections and friction between recent history and fictional visions of the future.”

Read essays by Karl Schoonover (2020) & Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith (2017)

Watch Sky Arts interview and short documentary (2016)


  • PhD, School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Ulster University. 2018-2022
  • MA Photography & Moving Image (with distinction), Royal College of Art, London. 2009- 2011
  • BA Fine Art (First Class Hons.), Technological University Dublin. 2004 – 2008
Solo Exhibitions             
  • Upcoming: Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. 2024
  • Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. 2021
  • Outburst Queer Arts Festival, Ulster University, Belfast. 2019  
  • CAI02 Contemporary Art Institute, Sapporo, Japan. 2018          
  • Ormston House, EVA, Limerick. 2018              
  • Block 336, curated by Kathleen Soriano, London. 2017              
  • Millenium Court Arts Centre, Northern Ireland. 2017              
  • The Linenhall Arts Centre, Ireland. 2016
  • CAI02 Contemporary Art Institute, Sapporo International Art Festival, Japan. 2014     
  • Galway Arts Centre, Ireland. 2013    
  • RUA RED, South Dublin Arts Centre, Ireland. 2011  
  • 126, Galway, Ireland. 2008
Solo Screenings            
  • Buncrana Cinema, with Artlink, Donegal. 2023.
  • IMMA, Screen Project, Irish Museum of Modern Art. Online. 2020  
  • FACT, Liverpool. Q&A with Dr Michael Birchall. 2018
  • Sky Academy Arts Scholarship. UK & Ireland. 2015
  • UNESCO-Aschberg Laureate Artist. South Korea. 2014  
  • Little White Lies Award from 9th London Short Film Festival. 2012  
  • Grand Prix from the Sapporo Biennale International Competition. Japan. 2011
  • Honorary Mention from Startpoint Prize for Emerging Artists. Czech Republic. 2011
Selected Group & Duo Exhibitions           
  • Courthouse Gallery, Clare, exhibition with Bassam Issa Al-Sabah and Jennifer Mehigan. 2022 

  • ‘Video Works’ and ‘On the Irish Photobook’ at PhotoIreland, Museum of Contemporary Photography at the Print Works, Dublin. 2022

  • Guides, curated by Séamus Nolan from the Arts Council Collection, Linenhall Arts Centre. 2022 
  • Narrow Gate of the Here and Now, collections exhibition at IMMA. 2021-2022
  • Circuit Festival, 126, Ireland (Duo exhibition) 2021 
  • I Never Promised you a Dystopia, curated by Aoife Banks, Kilkenny Arts Office. 2021
  • I Am What I Am, curated by Sinéad Keogh, Ballina Arts Centre, Ireland. 2021
  • Haerfest, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. 2019
  • Disruptors, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda. 2019
  • How to do Things with Words, ArtLacuna, London. 2018
  • FUTURES, RHA, Ireland. 2017
  • Art Works, VISUAL, curated by Eoin Dara & Emma-Lucy O’Brien, Carlow. 2017  
  • Art Street, public exhibition in Sapporo-Odori subway stations, Sapporo, Japan. 2016
  • Art Works, VISUAL, selected by Annie Fletcher, Carlow. 2016
  • Out There Thataway, CCA Derry-Londonderry. 2015  
  • Kooshk Artist Residency Award, Open Studio Exhibition, Mohsen Gallery, Tehran, Iran. 2015
  • Art Works, VISUAL, selected by Lewis Biggs, Carlow. 2015  
  • Homeland, Damer House Gallery in association with Loop Barcelona, Ireland. 2015  
  • Other Forms of Relations, MMCA Residency, National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, South Korea. 2014
  • Fake Hikers, MMCA Residency, National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, South Korea. 2014
  • Sorachi Coal Mine exhibition, Sapporo International Art Festival, Japan. 2014
  • We, Catalyst Arts, Belfast. 2012
  • Periodical Review # 2, Pallas Projects, Dublin. Selected by Padraic E. Moore. 2012
  • Started 2012: Residents of Startpoint, Galerie NTK, National Technical Library, Prague. 2012
  • Drop Everything, Inis Oirr. 2012
  • The Last to Say, Museum Gavu Cheb, Czech Republic. 2012
  • Startpoint: Selected, Museum Gavu Cheb, Czech Republic 2012
  • Startpoint Prize for Emerging Artists, Wannieck Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic. 2011
  • SHOW 2011, Royal College of Art Graduate Show, London. 2011
  • 9 Days the Museum Disappears, Sapporo Pre-Biennale, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. 2011
  • Album, curated by Morgan Quaintance, Liverpool Biennale Independents. 2010
  • Artist Performance Series, Project Arts Centre, Dublin. 2008
Selected Film Festivals & Screenings
  • ‘To be consumed in totality’, invited programmer for PhotoIreland and aemi screening. 2021
  • Thessaloniki Queer Arts Festival (TQAF), Thessaloniki. 2021
  • TQAF at Balkan Can Kino festival, Athens. 2021
  • Screening at 6th Biennial of Painting, curated by Eve Woods, Pallas Projects, Croatia. 2021
  • Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, San Francisco. 2020
  • Screening at Kvindemuseet (Women’s Museum) curated by Pamela Grombacher, Aarhus Art Weekend, Denmark. 2019
  • Qflix, Philadelphia. 2018
  • Korean Queer Film Festival, Seoul. 2018
  • Leeds Queer Film Festival, UK. 2018
  • Cork Film Festival, Ireland. 2018
  • 10th Imagine Science Film Festival, New York. 2017
  • AMINI 17: Festival of Artists’ Moving Image, The MAC, Belfast. 2017
  • Loop Barcelona: City Screen, Damer House at La Place Art Space, Spain. 2017
  • Urban Nomad Film Festival, Taiwan. 2017
  • Dingle International Film Festival, Ireland. 2017
  • EMAF, European Media Arts Festival, Germany. 2016
  • Les Rencontres Internationales, Paris. 2016
  • Cork Film Festival, Ireland. 2016
  • Edinburgh Artist Moving Image Festival (EAMIF), Scotland. 2016
  • Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival, Scotland. 2015
  • Abandon Normal Devices, Cornerhouse, Manchester. 2012
  • Tenderflix Film Screening, Tenderpixel, London. 2012
  • The London Short Film Festival. Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London. 2012
  • Big Screen, Latitude Festival with Lux, Cine-city and Supernormal Festival, UK. 2012
  • WNDX, Festival of Moving Image, Canada. 2012
  • The Brighton Film Festival, Cinecity, the Nightingale, Brighton. 2011
  • FEST; International Film Festival, Portugal. 2011
  • Artlink, Fort Dunree, Donegal. 2023.
  • Marino Institute of Education, Artist in Residence. Dublin. 09/2017- 07/2018
  • Fire Station Artist Studios. Dublin. 06/2017- 07/2018
  • Cow House Studios, Bealtaine Festival. Curated by Linda Shevlin. 2017  
  • RHA Studio Artist, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. 01/2016- 08/2016 
  • Kooshk Artist Residency Award. Tehran, Iran. 2015
  • MMCA Changdong, National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art. South Korea. 09/2014-12/2014
  • Taipei Artist in Residence, Taipei Artist Village, Taipei Culture Foundation.Taiwan. 01/2014- 04/2014
  • Started Residency, Startpoint Prize for Emerging Artists, Arbor Vitae Foundation. Prague. 2012
  • VISIO, European Workshop on Artists Cinema at Lo Schermo dell’Arte Film Festival. Florence. 2012
Selected Publications, Reviews & Broadcasts
  • ‘The Narrow Gate Of The Here And Now – IMMA: 30 Years Of The Global Contemporary’. 2022
  • ‘Summoning a queer state’, essay by Karl Schoonover, published by the Crawford. 2020
  • Review of ‘Expulsion’ in Art Monthly by Chris Hayes, October issue 440. 2020
  • ‘Curriculum- Contemporary Art Goes to School’, essay by Alissa Kleist, published by Intellect. 2020
  • Review of Everything Disappears by Chris Hayes, Circa art magazine.
  • ‘Unseen by my Open Eyes’, UK, Europe, Asia & North America. 2017
  • Sky Arts UK & Ireland broadcast: 10min documentary & interview with Melvyn Bragg. 2016
  • National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art Residency publication, South Korea. 2015
  • ‘Artists in the Art Studio of National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art’. South Korea. 2014
  • ‘Fluid Identities’, Visual Artists Ireland Newsheet, July/August Issue, Ireland. 2014
  • ‘Forms of Imagining #2’, Project Arts Centre. ISBN: 978-1-872493-28-2. 2012
  • ‘Hardcover: Image Perspectives’, RCA, London. 2011.
  • Review by Sara Baume, Circa art magazine, Issue 205. 2008
Talks, Lectures & Panels
  • Lecturer, BA Photography with Video, Belfast School of Art, Ulster University. Sept 2021-Jan 2023.
  • Guest lecture, BA Photography, BA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication. 2021
  • In conversation with Kathleen Soriano, online, recorded for the Crawford Art Gallery. 2020
  • In conversation with Sara Greavu, online, IMMA. 2020
  • Lecturer, BSc (Hons) Cinematic Arts, Ulster University, Derry. September- December 2019.
  • Panel discussion at Kvindemuseet (Women’s Museum), Aarhus Art Weekend, Denmark. 2019
  • Artist Talk, RHA, Dublin. 2018
  • In conversation with Kathleen Soriano, Ormston House, Limerick. 2018
  • Panel with Vivienne Dick & Kathy Pendergast, chair: Linda Shevlin, Wexford Arts Centre. 2017
  • Artist Talk, The Hugh Lane, Dublin. 2017
  • In conversation with curator Kathleen Soriano, Block 336, London. 2017
  • Artist talk, BA Photography, University of Ulster, Belfast. 2017
  • Artist Talk, BA Fine Art, Technological University Dublin. 2017
  • Artist Talk, Rybon Art Centre, Tehran, Iran. 2015
  • Artist Talk, Belfast School of Art, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. 2015
  • Artist Talk, Department of Fine Art, Kyung Hee University, Seoul. 2014
  • Artist Talk, BA Fine Art, Technological University Dublin. 2013
Conference, Seminar Presentations & Journals
  • Peer-reviewed journal: ‘Screen Production Research: Queer Short Filmmaking as a Mode of Enquiry’, Short Film Studies: Issue 11.2, co-authored with Dr Victoria McCollum. 2021 
  • ‘Towards a Queer State: Joan Jett Blakk and Arthur Evans’, Outing the Past conference, online. 2021
  • ‘Writing a funding application’, speaker at AEMI’s online funding information session. 2021
  • ‘Queer Filmmaking Practice: Strategies for Resistance’ at Irish Screen Studies Seminar, 2021
  • ‘Retelling LGBTQ+ Histories: Intercutting Fiction with Archival Footage in Queer Film’ at Outing the Past conference, Belfast. 2019
  • Screening at Performance and Protest Symposium, Ulster University, Derry. 2019
  • Screening and Q&A at Movies in Mind conference, Ulster University/ Nerve Centre, Derry. 2018
  • Speaker at ‘Public Art: From Ambition to Realisation’, VAI & Fingal Arts Office, Malahide Castle. 2017
  • Speaker at ‘Art in Schools – Models of Engagement’ seminar, Wexford Arts Centre. 2017
Selected Bursaries, Project Grants & Commissions
  • Visual Art Bursary Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2023
  • Visual Art Project Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2023
  • Cavan Arts Office arts grant. 2023
  • Film Bursary Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2022
  • Platform 31 Bursary Award, Local Authority Arts Offices. 2022
  • Arts Bursary, Dublin City Council. 2018
  • Film Project Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2017
  • Film Bursary Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2017
  • Film Project Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2015
  • Sorachi Coal Mine & Sapporo International Art Festival, commissioned video installation, Japan. 2014
  • Film Project Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2014
  • Film Project Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2012
  • Artist Bursary, South Dublin County Council. 2012
  • Artist’s International Development Fund, Arts Council of England & British Council. 2012
  • Artist Bursary Award, Arts Council of Ireland. 2011
  • E’3 Film Award, European League of Institute of the Arts. 2008
  • Artist Bursary, South Dublin County Council. 2008
  • Crawford Art Gallery.
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art, donated by Frank X. Buckley & Dr. Michael P. Burns through the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland.
  • The Arts Council of Ireland.
  • V&A National Art Library.
  • PhotoIreland Collection.

kevin gaffney