Taking its name from a video work by Seamus Harahan, this group exhibition of lens-based artists explores various states of disquiet, anxiety, and tension.
How are tensions, be they personal, social or political, represented? This exhibition brings together a group of artists who engage with states of hostility and conflict in order to consider the various strategies available to artists who want to address the darker side of human life. Made over a period of 16 years the works in this exhibition point to a range of ways of dealing with difficult situations, from the elliptical to the direct. The voracity of conflict images in our news-saturated daily lives and their psychological effect are investigated through the use of found imagery, documentary, archival, and staged photography.
Anger, tears, and furtive glances are the counterpoint to a whirlwind of friendship and fun that Corinne Day so clearly revelled in throughout the 1990s. The cumulative affect of her frank photographic series Diary, is to create a picture of a world teetering on the brink: like the Blown Down House, Texas 1999, collapse and survival are one and the same. John Duncan’s Bonfires series document the long-standing tradition of bonfire building by Protestant communities in Belfast. As part of the annual 11th July celebrations the bonfire structures are at once positive assertions of identity for those within protestant communities and signs of exclusion to those on the outside.
Seamus Harahan’s experimental approach to film-making, collaging fragments of footage with soundtracks taken from popular music creates an aesthetic of uncertainty, often becoming analogous to the themes he is exploring. The unsteady, darting handheld footage of Splitting in Two becomes reflective of the tensions embodied within Stormont, home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, depicted in the film. The tensions of psychological dramas are expressed in Sarah Dobai’s works. Avoiding any direct narrative, Dobai’s images are suspended in time and located in non-specific places so that confusion and anxiety pervades.
Until her untimely death in 1997, Andrea Fisher concentrated on the apparent factual status of disaster imagery and the hidden, psychic significance for the viewer. Reframing, zooming, and cropping images of traumatized women, focusing on scars and scratches, her works disclose more intimate truths about violence for those willing to look. Peter Kennard's paintings of traumatized, shrouded faces implicate the viewer with their gaze even when they are barely visible themselves, while Christopher Stewart's photographs of security training grounds suggest the presence of others watching us, pointing to the activity of surveillance and the power relations between the watched and the watcher.