We, Us, Them – PreviewStudio Gallery
25th Nov 2021 to 23rd Dec 2021
About The Exhibition
We, Us, Them is a collaborative artist exchange residency and exhibition programme between Belfast Exposed Photography in Northern Ireland and the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. Both galleries are centres of excellence in their respective countries.
The exhibition, which is supported by the UK/Australia Season and is a collaboration between the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, will focus on racism and how communities are viewed and stereotyped globally.
‘We, Us, Them’ will see the collaboration for the first time of artists from Belfast/UK and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, Australia collaborating to create an exhibition in 2022. Within the exhibition, four artists from Australia will exhibit alongside Northern Ireland stills photographer, Helen Sloan, who has spent her recent years undertaking photography with the worldwide production Game of Thrones, much of which was created in Northern Ireland.
The first of the exhibitions is a taster of 'We, Us, Them’, which will be launched in Belfast Exposed from 25th November 2021 to 23rd December 2021. This taster exhibition is a spotlight on the four Australian artists Raphaela Rosella, Anu Kumar, Cate Consandine and Julie Rrap. Helen Sloan is currently working with women from the Irish Traveller community whose work will be showcased in February/March in two major exhibitions in both Belfast and Melbourne.
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the sovereign people and the Irish Traveller community as First Nation ethnic minorities. The artist's collaboration explores how cultural shifts evolving over generations have moved borders and altered language through degrees of modernisation in a local context but have relevance at a global level. The research will address deracination associated with homeland, discrimination deeply rooted in race and colour and how the combination of both leads to marginalisation, social exclusion, and isolation.
Driven by the question of ‘what does it mean to represent a community', We, Us, Them acts as a platform through which five female artists explore personal reflections on communal history, identity and place.
Attempts to capture or encapsulate smaller communities and groups are often predicated upon power structures that essentialise and flatten - the artists featured in We, Us, Them approach this representation from a rich variety of viewpoints, charting the multiple expressions of group and community identity, whilst also exploring the basis of collaboration. What does collaboration mean for dis-empowered groups? What can be achieved in amplifying rarely heard voices in contemporary photography? What do the foundational concepts within the contemporary practice (such as the archive, documentation and collaboration) mean for the creation of community?
Whilst the artists highlight the many issues these communities encounter, the project ambition is to connect and promote indigenous languages and cultures, acknowledging the positive changes and achievements of such communities surviving and adapting to their changing environments. Sharing our understanding through exhibitions and a comprehensive public programme will greatly broaden the reach of the programme.
The project is investigative conceptually and breaks new ground in the visual arts, through the use of new technologies such as virtual reality and key digital platforms delivered through direct and indirect experiences. Respect, engagement and co-authorship of this collaboration are embedded within this project.
The ArtistsHelen Sloan Raphaela Rosella Anu Kumar Cate Consandine Julie Rrap
With the support of Belfast Exposed, Helen will undertake an exploration into Belfast’s Irish Traveller communities to produce a series of co-authored portraits of their maternal leaders. Capturing the essence of these communities as they define their place within a shifting sense of local, regional and national identity in post-Brexit Northern Ireland.
Alongside four First Nations community collaborators, Raphaela will examine the power and authority of the archive. First Nations communities are regularly victims of the implicit control of bureaucratic archives and power structures - in Rosella’s three-channel video work, they construct a narrative which sights community members as the builders of their own archive, retaking the power of these organisational structures, and resisting and remaking themselves through this.
Anu will present the first exhibition drawn out of her personal archive of photography documenting her experience as an Australian of Indian descent. A reflection on the understanding of place, and the position of diasporic communities, Kumar’s intensely personal documentative photography acts as a lyrical celebration of her extended family, and the importance of place and home.
Cate's hybrid sculpture and video work The Departure explores the binary conditions of restraint and release, aggression and refuge, contraction and openness. Informed by the physicality of a community of senior female dancers, and acting as an archive of dance form and function, the work celebrates a repository of movement stored - a commemoration of a community of energy, kinetics and the strength of age.
Julie will present her key recent body of work Blow Back, outside of New South Wales for the first time. These portraits represent a collective performance act that uses breath as an action that is both gentle yet provocative. Operating as a localised form of expression for the community of women artists in Sydney that make up the subjects of the work, the performers open mouths mock the endless images of women posed in this way to suggest their receptivity; like a vessel waiting to be filled.
Thursday 25th November | 6:00pm - 9:00pm | Belfast ExposedFree
'We, Us, Them’ is generously sponsored by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council, and supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council, and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.