As students, graduates and staff of the BA, MFA and Phd Photography programmes, these photographers provide us with a contemporary perspective on place. A continual challenge within all art practice, and particularly within the photographic practice, is the ability to locate a place, which speaks both within and beyond itself. Curated by Belfast Exposed, the origins of this exhibition lie within a question posted by the Belfast School of Art Photography Department, which seeks to determine the photographic voice via the ways in which we locate or dislocate that voice.
Belfast Exposed has a rich and varied understanding of the photography graduates of Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art, having represented a number of them since the launch of the Belfast Exposed Futures programme in 2015. It understands that being a young photographer, belonging to the future, has very little to do with actual age. It has to do with qualities that allow the photographer to use the medium of photography in a way that illuminates the now. Beyond View provides a nod to that which is beyond the now, out of view, that which lies ahead even. This is of course the unknown and it reminds us that photography’s contradictory relationship with time renders it permanently in the past, while continually aiming at the future. The same might also be said of education. As such, this exhibition, whilst marking ten years of a Photography Department, does not strive to be a summary of the work produced during those ten years. It is, in fact, acutely conscious of how much is absent in what is present.
- Ailbhe Greaney, Lecturer in Photography, Belfast School of Art, Ulster University.
Ailbhe Greaney's, Nam, Paris, from the series 'StreetFlower', was one of the pieces invited for exhibition.The work ‘Street Flower’, created as part of a Residency Award at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, depicts a young generation of Vietnamese women living in Paris now, as well as the daughters of women who travelled by boat to Europe in the 1970’s. Here they wear jackets within Parisian landscapes that they previously wore moving through the streets of Vietnam by moped. In Vietnam the jackets are worn to protect the skin from the sun. The jackets are multi-coloured, with floral patterns. They are not traditional, nor do they reference the past. Rather, they are a part of contemporary culture, referencing a momentum that is forward facing. Moving en masse through the streets of Hanoi and Saigon, women wearing these jackets, appear like a moving garden.
Photography enables us to recreate one world within another. It has the ability to transport like a magic carpet or the white horse from the tale of Tir na NOg (Land of the Young). Within these images colour and dress become a language, and the photographs a kind of fabric, which transform and re-imagine complex personal identities, connecting people and place across time and space. Specifically, the displacement of the Vietnamese jackets re-locates aspects of Vietnamese sun, style and subtlety of substance, within a Parisian landscape.