Kai-Olaf Hesse - 1 August to 12 September 2002
67/89 by Kai-Olaf Hesse is a series of images referring to site-specific incidents, relating to an era of radical political agitation in Cold War Germany. The latest in a programme of exhibitions presented by Belfast Exposed, largely focusing on cities with historical experience of civil and political unrest, and considering ways of reading the past within contemporary urban landscapes.
Beginning with late 1960s student and left anti imperialist protest against military intervention in Vietnam by the US and its western allies, Hesse's images refer to sites of mass demonstrations in the face of violent state reaction. During the 1970s mass mobilisation for political action declined in western societies. Here, Hesse's images refer to the actions of armed groups, such as Baader-Meinhof, who saw themselves as an elite vanguard against capitalism, provoking the German state to violent reaction, which would in turn re-awaken mass political consciousness. 67/89 finally records a return to public participation in anti state protest during the 1980s, centred on the USA/USSR arms race and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Last summer Belfast Exposed showed Afterwars by Israeli photographer, Ori Gersht, a series of architectural portraits taken in and around Sarajevo in the aftermath of the Bosnian war. Earlier this summer we commissioned and exhibited Peter Richard's Memorial, which recorded and examined the function of memorials to conflict around Belfast. At this stage of the peace process in Northern Ireland, there is heightened public interest and concern over how conflict is remembered. We hope through our gallery programme to make a small contribution to an important on going debate. Interestingly, where Afterwars and Memorials documented very public responses, 67/89 highlights the absence of public memorial to incidents, which in their time seemed to hold wide, international significance, but whose meaning through time, has become submerged.
Signifying an individual act of remembrance, 67/89 raises questions about the nature of historical memory, suggesting that at each layering of history, choices have to be made between what will be obliterated, what preserved; what remembered and what forgotten.
Belfast Exposed would like to acknowledge the support of Belfast City Council, the NI Arts Council and the Ormeau Baths Gallery.