Past Belfast Exchange Gallery Exhibition
Men and My Daddy
Adam Patterson - 30 September to 12 November 2011
30th September - 12th November 2012 Opening 29th September. All Welcome
Presenting old family photographs and new documentary images, Men and my Daddy is an impartial, curious look at the lives of individuals within a community in transition.
'Over a decade has past since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. While representing a time of significant change, the post-agreement period can also be characterised in terms of an experience of waiting – for a new kind of politics and new social and cultural arrangements to emerge. During this time a number of artists and photographers have sought to represent this 'process of transition' and the inherent tensions between stasis and change, particularly as they play out across the city of Belfast.'
Where are the People: Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002 - 2010
The exhibition begins at this mid-point, at a time of transition and change in a small community in north Belfast.
Taking its title from an inscription on the back of a found photograph, 'Men and my Daddy' documents a loyalist area in north Belfast through the photographer's engagement with individual community members. In doing so, it tracks the public development of the UDA from a paramilitary organisation throughout the 80s and 90s, to a political group now claiming a focus on youth education and community cohesion.
Familiar emblems and motifs occur, of rioting youths, bonfires and the trappings of ceremonies and services, but amidst these are glances to the peripheries of the action, allegorical portraits, art historical references. A bonfire becomes the tower of Babylon, a child holding a seed in the snow-reflected light becomes a romantic, poignant symbol. Flashes of light, water, mist and smoke provide an elemental palette to raise the images to a more epic level, highlighting the universal and timeless nature of these local and intimate depictions.
No conclusions can be drawn in this impartial, curious study of a world paradoxically undercover and in the media glare. But with their leaders shifting the community’s focus from the glamour and nostalgia of a militant past to a new form of political activism, we are left concerned for the youth depicted. Their universal struggle for clarity and purpose will after all, be realised on a local level, with local implications for a new generation.