Revealing Views

Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London, England.

5 March - 25 April 1999

© Victor Sloan

The media in England is still dominated by two stereotypes of Ireland: conflict or idyllic landscapes. Eleven artists here explore the hidden politics behind the surface of day-to-day life and offer powerful insights

The pictures by photojournalist Michael Abrahams do not document events or ‘decisive moments’ but record the sad or absurd in the ordinary, such as a house with the living room in the North, and the bedroom in the South. Anthony Haughey captures a similar mood. His “Disputed Territory” series shows the borderland itself; a patch of grass, the murky water of a lough, and the remnants of a former army presence.

Paul Seawright’s Belfast ‘portraits’ show the signs of division: a rusted steel cage over the entrance to a pub or a bricked up doorway ‘What’s interesting…is what I haven’t photographed…and all this image does is begin to tease out some feelings or ideas about those environments’. This could apply to Mary McIntyre’s photographs of empty public spaces such as a council chamber, which exude a sense of waiting and invisible power.

Patrick McCoy and Paul Quinn have photographed the people of Belfast: McCoy, the passengers inside black cabs which serve the Falls Road and Quinn, the clients of a West Belfast barbour shop - everyday subjects with subtle signifiers of culture and gender. Moira McIver’s fragmented portraits of retired British Legion solders investigate history and identity.

Idyllic landscapes are undermined by Steve Pike’s haunting views of abandoned farms and by Pádraig Murphy’s ironic shots of tourism.

Victor Sloan and Seán Hillen challenge documentary realism: Sloan by ‘distressing’ the surface of his photographs, and Hillen with montages of surreal and visionary landscapes.

South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX, U.K.
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