Street View: Tristan PoyserStreet View
4th Jan 2021 to 27th Feb 2021
About The Exhibition
Belfast Exposed is delighted to present Street View: Tristan Poyser which features two projects - The Invisible In-between: An Englishman’s Search For The Irish Border and Masked: a Portrait of Amazon - by artist Tristan Poyser. The two projects share a commonality, in that they both explore political, cultural and social issues at a time of great uncertainty. In both projects, Poyser engaged with the public to 'encompass their opinions, hopes and desires about their unique socio-political situations. As a collective, their voices amass an account which is representative of precarious times. Each respondent was invited to tear a print in ‘The Invisible In-between’ to make the invisible visible then to share a written comment about their thoughts on Brexit. In a similar manner, a subset of photographs from ‘Masked’ is a series of 130 Amazon employees asked to write and display their introspections.'
Video link - Street View: Tristan Poyser
Tristan Poyser’s project The Invisible In-between: An Englishman’s Search For The Irish Border, which exhibited at Belfast Exposed in 2019, began as a response to the results of the UK’s Brexit referendum. Poyser spent two years travelling and photographing the full length of the 510 km Irish border.
The materiality of the border is shown through a physical tear, making the invisible, visible. The act of tearing creates uneasiness, evoking notions of the political and economic tensions surrounding the border's position within the Brexit negotiations, symbolising the divorce of the UK from the 27 remaining states. The Invisible In-between shows the viewer the reality of the border & encourages them to explore the intangible nature & uneasiness surrounding it. Poyser walked areas with Irish border born poets Conor O’Callaghan and Jacqui Devenney Reed, and consulted with Garrett Carr, author of The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland's Border.
In an introduction to the Invisible In-between Garrett Carr writes: “Poyser went further than just photographing the route of this invisible frontier. He has taken hold of the physical photographs and ripped them along the borderline. Each tear is, I think, a stroke of brilliance. It is more of an act than a mark, although it has left a visual record of itself, and it is more eloquent than one hundred newspaper articles about the border.”
Belfast Exposed Creative Director, Deirdre Robb, stated: "It is important that this work is showcased to the public at this momentous time, as the impacts of the two life-changing events is now shaping our lives here in Northern Ireland, Covid-19 & Brexit. As we start to feel the harsh reality of these two events have on jobs, economy and movement of goods and services, the narratives behind the photographs are truthful, poignant and timely."
Tristan Poyser's latest project Masked: a Portrait of Amazon, is a series of performative portraits and still life photographs of the 64 face masks and ephemera he was provided with whilst working at Amazon, during the initial Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The photographs are a reflection of his doubts, frustrations, anxieties, the change in identity, the lack of control over lockdown and decisions made.
Poyser stated, "Whilst fortunate to be in a position to earn an income, there was a palpable tension brought on by the restrictions of the Pandemic, the lockdown and the restrictions of employment. Clocking in, Clocking out, timed breaks, compounded by the uncomfortable but necessary safety measures. Wearing masks for 10 hr shifts, doing manual tasks, struggling to communicate with only eye contact and muffled voices, quickly becomes overbearing.
Whilst at Amazon, I created a typology of 130 portraits of associates from over 25 different nationalities. Participants had worked at Amazon from as little as 2 days, to as much as four years. Each participant was asked to write down two ways they had been affected personally by COVID 19 and Lockdown. This ranged from missing the gym, to close family members dying from COVID-19. The opportunity to document participants' thoughts and feelings gives control of the narrative to the individual participants offering a different agenda to that of the media and politicians, creating a record of people in their own words."
Street View provides a multimedia exhibition experience to increase the accessibility and visibility of photography on the streets of Belfast. Street View is a large digital window display, complimented with audio narratives, that showcases contemporary artwork by internationally renowned and local emerging photographers to an external audience on the streets of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.
Belfast Exposed believe photography is for everyone, it is accessible, meaningful and has the ability to tell stories, allowing us to create dialogue and reflect upon our history, inform our present and inspire a positive future. Street View is another opportunity to extend our vision beyond the confines of the gallery.
Born and Bred in Derby, UK. Now living in Manchester. Tristan Poyser's work explores identity and perceptions through social documentary and more recently self portraiture and still life, with a view to creating a narrative of current affairs, that reflects the views and opinions of the general public, opposed to those controlled by politicians and the media.
Poyser's work often uses combinations of photography, moving image, public participation and sound recordings to tell a more immersive story. He is influenced by his affinity to the outdoors and my young family.
Since exhibiting The Invisible In-between: An Englishman’s Search For The Irish Border as a solo exhibition at Belfast Exposed as a Futures Artist, the project has amassed over 500 participations from members of the public. The project has since won The RBSA photographic prize and exhibited at Hull International Photography Festival, Look International Photography Festival and at Art link Fort Dunree, in the Republic of Ireland, as well as featuring in Loupe Magazine and Then There Was Us Photography Journal.
In a continuation of using public participation as a method for exploring current issues. Participation was used in Masked: a Portrait of Amazon. A series of 136 portraits of Amazon associates and their personal thoughts on lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic. 5 of these photographs are now apart of the Historic England Archive. Poyser now lectures on photography at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle. This proximity to Scotland allows him to continue working on The Invisible In-between: An Englishman’s Search For The Scottish Border.
'Street View: Tristan Poyser' at Belfast Exposed is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.