Home > Exhibitions - Past
- Belfast Exposed
- 17 April to 30 April 2002
Belfast Exposed holds an archive of around 500,000 images, thanks to a policy of retaining and preserving negatives from all its projects over twenty years. The archive provides a record of life and experience in a troubled place through troubled times, where the value of each image lies in collective rather than individual meanings. A record of events through the eyes of photographers, who, in many cases, were also participants, these images say something about what it was like to be there.
Informed by a creative use of Belfast Exposed's archive Stirring Space features images in context, in which women are represented or represent themselves within public and private space, as actors in the social, and political life of Northern Ireland between 1980 - 2000.
Many of the images depict an ambiguous role for women. In the circumstances of a conflict fought on everyday streets and intruding into the domestic sphere, reaction towards women's active participation may be coloured by expectations associated with more conventional roles, such as wife, mother or community worker. For some women, being 'involved' in a political, and even more so in a military capacity, may arguably have undermined rather than strengthened a sense of place and value.
Each historical moment is specific, having a particular meaning interpreted in one way by those who were there and in other ways by those who looked on. Our purpose in revisiting Belfast's recent history is not to fight on old battle grounds, but to awaken interest in the archive as an engaging fragment of the past, which might also be used as a means of interpreting events in the present. Making a small contribution towards what historian E H Carr called the 'unending dialogue between the present and the past', we hope to encourage people from a range of backgrounds and disciplines to see the archive as an accessible primary source, stimulating ideas and informing their work.
With this in mind, we further explored the themes of Stirring Space later in 2002, by publishing a series of commissioned essays examining (for example) the role played by women in NI politics, and ambivalent attitudes towards their active participation; the meaning of gendered space in Belfast and the implications of new self consciously 'feminised' political processes. It was an open brief, seeking primarily to develop the archive as a resource to be used to substantiate or encourage areas of research.
The archive was launched as an online educational resource in Autumn 2002.
Belfast Exposed thanks the New Opportunities Fund and Lloyds TSB Foundation for supporting the development of the archive as an on line resource.