“In my imagination, it was true”: Margins of Excess exhibition artist talk by Max PINCKERS by Allan LEONARD 14 June 2019
As part of the Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast Exposed is hosting an exhibition of Margins of Excess, by Max Pinckers. The artist gave a talk about this project in the gallery, describing how he approached the topic of intersecting news story truths from investigative facts and subjective realities.
Belfast Exposed exhibition talk: Post Truth: The new normal of the undefined, abstract, and make believe by Allan LEONARD 30 May 2019
Belfast Exposed is hosting a group exhibition displaying the work of graduate students of the MFA Photography programme at Ulster University (UU). The theme is “Post Truth”, which aims to explore how we find our truths in a reportedly “post-truth” society, through the medium of photography. As UU Professor Donovan Wylie explained on the information flyer, the works collectively represent collisions of faith, identity, and history, which “take us to a place of post truth, a world where there is a new normal: undefined, abstract, and make believe”.
Burn/t Out: Crimes against social cohesion by Allan LEONARD 10 April 2019
One of the criticisms of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is that it did not satisfactorily scope out mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland; the focus was forging a consensus on exclusively non-violent means of pursuing politics. One form of violence during the Troubles was the forced displacement of some 45,000-plus people from their homes, whether through physically burning their properties or verbal intimidation. On the 21st anniversary of the Agreement, an art exhibition was launched at ArtCetera Studio. Organised by artist and filmmaker Casey Asprooth-Jackson and academic Brendan Ciarán Browne, Burn/t Out presents narratives and artefacts of Northern Ireland’s internally displaced persons.
Decisive moments at Belfast City Hospital: A street photography exhibition by Tuck GOH by Allan LEONARD 17 January 2019
At the Tower Gallery in City Hospital, I arrived with some time to spare in advance of the official start of an exhibition of street photography by Tuck Goh. I took a seat and watched passers-by — staff, patients, and visitors. There was a flow of activity not unlike that portrayed in some of the framed images hanging in front of me. Such images are captured with a camera eye trained to capture “the decisive moment”. I’m interrupted by a young woman pushing a young girl — seven or eight years old — in a specialist wheelchair, between me and an image of another younger girl outdoors with her parents. Snapshots of life wherever you look for it.
Reflected Lives: Broadening the canvas of the past An oral history project at a Belfast interface by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News 10 April 2018
Joe O’Donnell (Strategic Director, Belfast Interface Project) told the audience that the auspicious date for today’s exhibition launch was no accident. With reference to the much publicised conference at Queen’s University Belfast, featuring key political figures behind the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, O’Donnell said, “They’ll be talking about you”, the participants of the oral history project, Reflected Lives.
As part of its 2010 Summer School, Community Dialogue (www.communitydialogue.org) hosted an exhibition of international cartoonists’ contributions to The Parents Circle – Families Forum (www.theparentscircle.com), which is a grassroots organisation based in the Middle East.
The Parents Circle – Families Forum represents more than 500 families, both Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost a family member to the conflict.
At the Belfast launch event at Farset International, Springfield Road, Forum members Robi Damelin (Israeli) and Seham Ikhlayel (Palestinian) described the background to this exhibition and their project work, as well as shared their stories, experiences and hopes.
I was particularly intrigued to learn more about their “Crack in the Wall” project, which will make interactive use of websites and social media. As Robi explained, with it becoming increasingly difficult to physically meet up, the use of phone lines and online resources become vital.
Robi and Seham insist that any peace agreement that does not involve the people in the process nor include reconciliation as a specific outcome is doomed to failure.
Robi also has no time for the display of flags, citing Israeli flags in Protestant areas and Palestinian flags in Catholic areas of Belfast:
“I don’t think that’s helping anybody. It just makes you feel good about yourself. I don’t see how Seham’s life was improved by a Palestinian flag.”
After Robi and Seham spoke, there was a Q&A session, with inevitable comparisons between the Middle East and Northern Ireland experiences. My impression was that the locals weren’t actually listening to Robi’s understanding (or incomprehension) of forgiveness. That is, several people tried to probe why it is apparent that Christian-populated places put such a premium on forgiveness. At one point Robi said that when Bishop Desmond Tutu insists on forgiveness, that’s immoral; you can’t righteously compel forgiveness.
There were workshop-style discussions afterwards, which I wasn’t able to stay for. But I am very grateful for Community Dialogue for facilitating this exhibition’s trip to Northern Ireland.
Robi and Seham were also interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster Arts Extra, where they described their work further: