There are two excellent exhibitions running at the moment in Belfast Exposed gallery. I went along to the opening of these last week and thought it’s a good opportunity to update the blog with a long over due post.

Entering the main gallery we are greeted by a new patrician wall that leads to the main gallery space. The main area is looking particularly less illuminated than usual, however this isn’t due to any oversight in paying the utility bills. The lights have been dimmed to make way for Hans-Peter Feldman’s installation piece Shadow Play. Feldman is most well know for his eclectic approach to art making which often involves ideologies surrounding peoples need to collect things. Shadow Play is no exception to this method as we are confronted by a collection of objects bathed in light and rotating on a long table. The light has been positioned behind said objects and is creating a constantly changing, yet repeating shadow display on the adjacent white wall. I’ll not go too much further into the mechanics of the piece as I really recommend viewing to grab the full experience.

My first thoughts when entering the exhibition was that it felt like the opposite of photography. It is frozen in time and it’s progressing, it is tangible, yet has an intangible element. Photography is restrictive we all know that, but this felt like photography without the limits. Shadow Play is what a photography exhibition would have been if Louis Dagurere and Joseph Niecpe never discovered silver halides. It is photography without a camera and photography with a physical end product.

It is like the original camera obscura, with its outcome requiring an additional process before being complete. Without someone to sketch a the outline of a projected landscape or some photographic film to respond to the light, the image projected would only exist to those who have physically viewed it during it’s occurrence. Interestingly in a retrospective of Fledman ,MUSEUM LUDWIG, COLOGNE, GERMANY, the literature described him as an anti-photo-artist, which certainly links to my initial thoughts of Shadow Play, although it does suggest a dislike of the medium or at least a distain to the restrictions it has.

Photography’s restrictions aside, Shadow Play certainly holds many of its traits, ideologies of memory and an ever disseminating personal past are apparent and I found myself both swept up in the mesmeric shadow display and the adventure back to my youth. I hope I have made my point clear in that Shadow Play cannot be experienced via pictures or even film it must be literally consumed to be fully appreciated. In a world where photography is so readily available maybe this is the sort of thing that will remind both the casual viewer and the home photo critic that the experience of attending exhibitions is usually vastly removed from anything we see online or in books.

Shadow Play runs from 21 October to 20 December 2010

I must also point out the Common Grounds exhibition also running in Belfast exposed on the first floor.

I’ll let someone with a better grasp on the project describe it:

“Belfast Exposed believes in supporting artists and photographers at all stages of their careers. This is our opportunity to showcase the work of emerging photographers, who have been supported through our own training programmes.”

I have to say I was really blown away by the quality of the work on display here. As a recent graduate I try to be aware of the any other new photo artists / photo graduates around at the moment. Unfortunately for me  it seems the standard in Belfast is very high, especially when you consider most of these exhibitors have no formal photographic training other than what has been offered by BX.

One piece of work that stood out for me was that of Liz Wade. Liz produced a series of images from a Nunnery. As none of the images had any accompanying blurb –which was actually really refreshing- I cannot go into much detail about the background of the piece. I will say that it comes across to me as a well researched piece of work and something that certainly would have taken some effort to gain access. Regardless of that I found the images on display well considered and aesthetically pleasing. The high standard of work is both equal parts enjoyable and terrifying.

Common Ground Runs 22 Oct – 20 Nov 2010