This study hinges on photography's intrinsic dialogue with memory to explore recent developments within photographic art practice in Northern Ireland. I argue that it is possible to trace in artworks which interrogate the contested past, a formulation of cultural identity in which memory plays a key role. Furthermore, I suggest that they frame an analytical understanding of this identity as operating performatively. Familiar perceptions of the conflict open up problematic territory, often betraying an over-simplified understanding of polarised communities which is based on crude binaries. This has the effect of perpetuating the constitution of identity in oppositional terms. As a result, the artists featured exploit the narrative properties of the medium to scrutinise and subvert common predispositions about the nature of the conflict. I assert that they complicate a prescriptive account of belonging in Northern Ireland, and create an alternative space in which to represent the many transgressions and contradictions which characterise everyday experience here. The various techniques and compositional strategies employed by the artist often assume a form which is in itself performative; I therefore discuss also the capacity of the photograph to function performatively. As a 'post-conflict' setting Northern Ireland has undergone monumental change in recent years, however, what are the dilemmas it faces as it attempts to emerge from the shadows of the past? I borrow largely from recent studies in the interdisciplinary field of cultural memory to theoretically underpin my research. I debate its methodological scope in supplementing an understanding of both the public and private claims made on memory, as well as addressing the intricate workings of the past in the present. In short, I question how changing subjectivities are being articulated in contemporary lens-based practice in Northern Ireland, and my structural framework engages themes of place and landscape, tradition and ritual, portraits, trauma and the archives.
|Source Sets||Ethos UK|
|Type||Electronic Thesis or Dissertation|
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