Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day
Mary McIntyre - 2 September to 19 September 2011
Belfast Exposed is pleased to present Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day, an exhibition of new photographs and installation by Mary McIntyre.
Mary McIntyre has worked as an artist in Northern Ireland for over twenty years. Northern Ireland, its landscape and architecture, are often the subject of her work. She photographs locations that are familiar to her, urban and rural places that she has come to know over time. She has pictured watery landscapes shrouded in fog, to create images full of soft light that obscures the edges of things. Her night-time images, of dark interiors and sodium-lit, suburban street scenes, have a similar effect where the objects photographed are continually dissolving into shadow. The works often have a dream-like, cinematic quality, which suspends the viewer between reality and imagination.
Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day features a series of photographs of quiet, suburban scenes and a large, floor-based installation. The raised floor presents as a stage upon which the exhibition is mounted and where the act of viewing (the visual works) is performed. Concepts of construction and performance carry through both the installation and photographic elements of the show. McIntyre explores the notion of landscape as a cultural construct, a scene to be pictured or framed and defined by our relationship to it. The act of viewing is depicted in one photograph ('The Wordless Exchange') by a solitary figure, a common motif in classical landscape painting. This image also refers specifically to Raoul Ruiz' 1979 film, 'Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting' and the hybrid form of tableau vivant (living picture), a marriage of theatrical performance, painting and photography.
In the other photographs, McIntyre observes a process of entropy at work in neglected and abandoned spaces. A domestic interior, a backyard, a public park; environments that were once ordered and animated through human presence, tend slowly towards disorder. The timeless push-and-pull between man-made and natural worlds – processes of colonisation and reclamation – sets the scene for McIntyre’s formal explorations. These banal spaces appear as sophisticated, staged compositions, where the play of light and colour take the viewer into imagined depths beyond the physical surface of things.
Influenced by Romanticism and notions of the sublime, McIntyre’s photographs of private and public spaces explore the psychological character of architecture, urban design and the natural landscape. She is interested in how these places make us feel, in atmosphere and what can be ‘sensed’ from the landscape, as well as what can be read. Her works, therefore, contain an emotional charge, a feeling of melancholy or foreboding, of meditative, even spiritual, reflection. Through McIntyre’s work, we are presented with a quiet, brooding landscape, a place of beauty, infused with anxiety and unease.
About the Artist
Mary McIntyre has exhibited her work extensively both nationally and internationally and her work is held in numerous public and private collections. Mary is a Reader in Fine Art with the University of Ulster. Her main research area is Fine Art, specialising in photography, lens-based and time-based practice.
Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Department of Social Development. Mary McIntyre would like to acknowledge support for her work by University of Ulster. She would also like to thank the staff at Belfast Exposed, IRIS Colour Laboratories and special thanks to Robert Anderson for his work on the installation.