Trees From Germany
John Duncan - 26 September to 6 November 2003
BX NEW WORK COMMISSION
In November 2002 Belfast Exposed Photography commissioned John Duncan to produce a photographic work of Belfast post-conflict on the threshold of progress.
Duncan has spent five years photographing the impact of regeneration brought about by renewed economic confidence in the city. His previous work Boom Town shown at The Gallery of Photography in Dublin last year looked at developer's idealised visions for the future of Belfast. In this new work Duncan explores some of the realities of the apartments, hotels and offices that have now been built and in particular how they interface with pre-existing aspects of the city. In an image central to the work we see a twelfth of July bonfire competing for space on the skyline with the newly erected Days Hotel. In the next image at the front of the hotel a new lawn is being rolled out towards the mural that declares 'You are now entering Loyalist Sandy Row'. The photographs go on to reveal the gated compounds and private gardens inside the new apartment complexes that offer sanctuary to some of the cities residents. Alongside these are photographs of those parts of the city where traditional sectarian interfaces are still being reinforced. In one image we see a new town house enclosed on one side by a succession of fences. These start with a wooden garden variety and rise to a two storey steel mesh construction that marks this out from other more standard suburban developments. Through the work Duncan presents us with a detailed account of the current phase in Belfast’s evolution.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue containing specially commissioned essays by cultural commentator David Brett and novelist Glenn Patterson who has just published his third novel Number Five to widespread critical acclaim.
This New Work Commission was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland - Lottery Fund.