Will we be there? the culmination of a 6 month placement as archivists at Belfast Exposed Photography Gallery  is coming to an end this week Monday 6th June 2011.

The exhibition was put together by myself, Zoe Hamill and David Mann, as a representation of the vast photographic Archive within Belfast Exposed. The archive holds over half a million images most of which are Black and White negatives. Our primary role was to collate and rehouse the negatives into a more manageable order, however our aim was to some how engage the public with this relatively unseen resource. We held a discussion group engaging with Belfast residents and some of the main contributing photographers to the archive and carried out interviews with those visiting The Soil and the atmosphere exhibition in the main exhibition space.

Ultimately however this exhibition was our main focus, we wanted to create something that represented our time working with these images on a daily basis. We also wanted to refrain from using any overtly political imagery as we felt that not only are these types of image perpetuating a specific view of Belfast but it wouldn’t have been true to our experience of the archive. We decided that we also didn’t want the exhibition to become a game off spot the street. Quite often when displaying images of a local geographical area people can become distracted by an urge to discover the “facts” of the image, we wanted people to really question why these pictures were chosen and what could they mean.

Using almost exclusively images taken by children from the community workshops we brought together a series of what could be considered photographic mistakes; overexposures, cropped heads and out of focus faces became the aesthetic theme. We wanted to find beauty in these mistakes and give life to images that may otherwise have gone unseen. We hoped that the series would raise questions, questions that would open a line of communication between the archive and the local community. Hopefully there will be at least a few people who visited the exhibition with a new sense of curiosity of what else lay behind the locked doors of the archive.

So my thanks go out to Pauline Hadaway, Mirjami Schuppert, Yvonne Keenan, Jane Butler, Brown and Bri, Mervyn Smith and of course to all the contributing photographers to this amazing collection of images.