Opening of Welcome to Belfast by Martin Parr  ©

Belfast Exposed

Belfast Exposed is Northern Ireland’s foremost contemporary photography gallery, showcasing work by prominent and emerging artists from Northern Ireland and around the world.

Founded in the midst of the Troubles, the violent conflict that lasted 30 years, the gallery has been at the heart of the city’s visual art scene for over three decades.

In 1983, 15 years after the outbreak of the Troubles and 15 years before the ceasefire following the Good Friday Agreement, the gallery was established by a team of Belfast photographers as a direct response to media representation of the city during the conflict. Their vision, to ‘create and inspire a culture of photography’, was a challenge to the type of photojournalism that flattened perceptions of Belfast’s people and culture, seeking instead to foster a more nuanced sense of the city’s experience of conflict.

The gallery’s exhibition programme brings together the best in international contemporary photography, as well as providing a platform for emerging names from Northern Ireland, rooting the space in local experiences and sensibilities. A commitment to social engagement is at the heart of the gallery’s operation, and many of its artists respond to the city’s history and socio-political context when selecting or creating work for Belfast Exposed.

Photography with a social conscience – Eugenie Dolberg and Anthony Haughey

Photographer Eugenie Dolberg is one such artist; her work explores themes of conflict and civil unrest, and she has worked alongside the gallery in a number of recent projects. For Open Shutters Iraq, 2012, Dolberg collaborated with an Iraqi academic and a group of journalists to train Iraqi women in photography and writing. The women were asked to produce photo-essays and texts exploring their experiences of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In the video below, Dolberg discusses the development of the work and her relationship with the gallery.

Anthony Haughey’s Settlement project, shown at Belfast Exposed, focuses on the fallout from the construction boom in Ireland during the early 2000s, which resulted in a rise in uninhabited property across the country. Haughey photographed these ‘ghost towns’ to create a poetic vision of the effects of unbridled economic growth.

In the film at the bottom of the page he discusses the development of the series.

Welcome to Belfast, Martin Parr, 2016  ©

Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Welcome to Belfast, Martin Parr, 2016  ©

Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Welcome to Belfast, Martin Parr, 2016  ©

Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Martin Parr 

In late 2016, Belfast Exposed presented a new body of work by world-renowned British photographer Martin Parr titled Welcome to Belfast. Commissioned by the gallery, the project responded to the city’s recent surge in tourism. The images (some of which are featured above) carry Parr’s trademark realist aesthetic and capture everyday life in a contemporary Belfast that welcomes millions of tourists per year while carrying the scars of sectarian violence.

Part of the success of the gallery is thanks to its outreach work within the local community. This ethos of public engagement extends from the gallery’s curatorial decisions to its education programmes, which include practical photography workshops and training in traditional film techniques.

Developing local talent and commissioning work that explores the city as it is today maintains Belfast Exposed’s hard-earned and deserving position at the heart of the Northern Irish photography scene.

See also

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