If you don’t have the knowledge of the history of the image you’re looking at then it’s actually nearly impossible to “see” history unless there’s a written reference. For instance, if you look at a picture of a block of wood then to most people it’s a block of wood. If someone tells you that a hundred people have had their heads chopped off on it then it takes on a different meaning completely. I think many Irish people would see their history in these images.
That’s Jackie Nickerson as interviewed by The Morning News‘ Rosecrans Baldwin on her project, Faith. Below is my favorite from the photographs included with the interview: