Cordon Sanitaire – 25 Years of Documenting the Walls

Cordon Sanitaire – 25 Years of Documenting the Walls

Belfast Exposed presents the video ‘Cordon Sanitaire – 25 Years of Documenting the Walls’, which was produced to accompant the photographic exhibition ‘Cordon Sanitaire‘ by Frankie Quinn. This exhibition forms part of a project that explores the impact of Peace Walls and Peace Lines since the first peace wall was erected in Belfast 50 years ago. The exhibition explores how communities have grown up around these installations, and how they have become an innate backdrop to the lives of so many.

21 years since the Good Friday Agreement, Belfast is in transition and moving towards a more peaceful society. However, scars from a troubled past are evident in the city environment through what are commonly called ‘Peace Walls’. These walls are all, strictly speaking, temporary. But, 50 years after the first one was erected, 48 of these structures, or ‘Cordon Sanitaires’, remain interwoven through the working-class communities and act as a reminder of the temporary or fragile nature of peace.

Frankie Quinn’s work over the past 25 years documenting the walls, and the production of this project – stems from his own experiences of living beside a peace wall – suggests a sense of permanence is a reminder to keep the process of taking the walls down moving in the right direction.

For decades, communities living alongside each other have existed literally cheek by jowl with these Cordon Sanitaires, yet, are worlds apart for multiple reasons. Ironically, these barriers, these cordons, some over 30ft high, have become their garden, their seasons and their neighbours.

The project is not focused on representing one community over another, it holds both in equal regard. The project does recognise how much these separations have become normalised within our communities, some now have planting schemes around them, have trees and other decorations. So, whilst communities are living with them, they are also, to a certain degree, embracing them. We want this project to pose the question about the role of these interfaces existing in our communities.

Video by: Tom Callahan, Sensitive Visuals
Images by: Frankie Quinn

Read more on the exhibition ‘Cordon Sanitaure – Frankie Quinn’