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Day of Action
A sense of frustration at the limitations of unionist political thought is taken up in Sloan's record of the Day of Action in 1986. He happened to be visiting Bangor during the Loyalist Day of Action, a mass strike organised to protest the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. This agreement, in some respects a precursor of the Good Friday Agreement, allowed for cross-border ministerial meetings and was regarded as unacceptable by Unionist politicians. To mark the day he took some photographs of the out-of-season resort, which is of course one of his emblematic settings. Strokes are slashed across sparse, slightly bleak but otherwise benign, exceptionally empty images, scratching and bleaching out the chemically fixed tones.
Now, there is an obvious and intended irony in the fact that he situates his documentation of the Day of Action in an out-of-season resort town, by definition, after all, a place where things do not happen. The point about the images here - and they have an edgy, chilly, desolate beauty - is that, as he says, they record "a day of inaction," reflecting the fact that the Loyalist initiative was designed to undo the agreement, to prevent movement and maintain the status quo. But the gesture is, the pictures again suggest, ultimately destructive of precisely the status quo it aspires to preserve. Again, the appearance of normality is saved at the expense of simmering, disruptive contradictions within the social fabric.
Extract from A Broken Surface: Victor Sloan's Photographic Work by Aidan Dunne in Victor Sloan: Selected Works 1980-2000, published by Ormeau Baths Gallery and Orchard Gallery, January, 2001.