Past Exhibition

Exchange Mechanism

Various - 11 February to 9 April 2010

A new exhibition, which transforms Belfast Exposed into free public space, in which the only currency is knowledge, imagination and the exchange of ideas.

Exhibition preview: 11 February 2010,  7-9pm
Exhibition run: 12 February – 9 April 2010
Gallery opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday, 11 am- 4 pm

Exchange Mechanism is an exhibition that questions the demands and denials of freedom in contemporary life, alongside artists’ responsibility to actively engage with the political. Increasing regulation of public life, restrictions on travel, censorship and self censorship, routine invasions of personal privacy, amidst a general sense of public disengagement from political process and debate. This is the exhibition’s starting point.

Over eight weeks, Belfast Exposed’s public gallery will be transformed into an alternative political space, where activists, artists, campaign groups and interested citizens are free to meet to exchange ideas, whether via talks and debates on a specially constructed platform or informally over a drink or a coffee.

Themes range from imaginative looks at city centre development to controversies around photographing in public, human rights, privacy and DNA databases; media reporting of political scandals to sectarian conflict; photo-journalism in an age of disbelief to debating the fallout from global recession.

Presenting contemporary art in the context of live political engagement, the newly opened second gallery will be showing three new works by local artists, alongside documentary film from the UTV archive and a film by curator Raimi Gbadamosi, responding to Belfast Exposed’s political photographic archive.

Contemporary galleries are an important element of Northern Ireland’s civic society, attracting thousands of people every month to exhibitions, talks and workshops. As a sector, we tend to be pretty sceptical of the generalisation that ‘ordinary people’ are disengaged from politics and turned off by contemporary art.

The response to exchange mechanism certainly gives cause for optimism. Over 100 individuals and organisations from London, Brighton, Zagreb, Helsinki, Dublin, Tyneside, Belfast, Leeds and Liverpool are already signed up to run activities, take part in debates, help coordinate events or simply take to the platform to publicly air their views. The themes may be serious, but everything about the programme is spontaneous, sociable and fun. None of our speakers is taking a fee and local participants are offering overnight accommodation to visitors from abroad. Our hope is that this project will go some way towards reviving the idea of the civic forum, one of the as yet unrealized promises of the good Friday agreement.

Download the programme of events at the top of this page or visit our events calendar for a full listing.