University of Ulster MFA Graduate Exhibition 2014

  September 2014

Image: The Handball Alley © Kenneth O’Halloran 2014

The MFA exhibition brings together work by the Belfast School of Art 2014 MFA Photography Graduates. The 15 photographers present diverse points of view, which collectively succeed in reimagining the way we live now. Reflecting on social and economic landscapes, the artists reveal singular and communal identities, the parameters of which are unbounded, drawn and redrawn as they are, by both time and history. These artists are creating work that raises important issues in what is a testing time for Ireland.

Alison McDonnell’s collaborative portraits of transgender people looks at the creation ‘safe places’ in Ireland. Jill Quigley seeks to remake our domestic vernacular buildings through personal interventions which question the stereotype of the ‘ruin’. The presence of the modern ruin again brings us face-to-face with the landscape of our past and future in the work of Johnny Savage. Using the moving image Bes Young re-works definitions of identity and questions whether physical form and gesture can answer the questions of who we are. Christopher Barr’s equine portraits look at how body markings are used to identify horses ­­– reimagining traditional systems of identification from within the travelling community, whose have traditionally resisted strict categorisation. Tim Durham uses the silhouette as a line of demarcation to re-draw the collapse of the Irish Property market. Our ability to have “a coherent identity in a digital age” is one of the key concerns within the work of Peter Evers. Here “the virtual, the real and the representational, the photograph and the sculpture, fold into each other”. Bernard McNicoll returns to home as a site of memory – a place when photographed is understood as something new. Kenneth O’Halloran returns us to the theme of the ruin in his ‘Handball Alleys’ series. These once vibrant places are physical remnants of a culture long since passed in Ireland. In Daragh McDonagh’s portraits of Shamans we encounter individuals who have returned to “older ways, pagan traditions and alternative practices” to fully connect to the natural world. Des Moriarty explores the “grotesque beauty” inherent within food that allows us to exist as transient, mobile beings, surviving on foods that have the potential to outlast us. Jim McKeever expands upon the transitory nature of modern life and reveals how man exists on the road to self-realisation. Matthew Thompson intuitively picks up the question of how to locate the self in a world “alienated through technology and fragmented social structures”. Oliver Smith’s portraits reveal the faces of youth trying to be present without the burden of a past or future. “The empty, weary faces of the come down”. Finally, in Simon Burch’s photographs the consequences of progress are laid bare. America exists as a prospect where the present is re-framed.

Artist Peter Evers demonstrating "The Rubber Hand Illusion" at the Gallery of Photography Ireland in 2014.

Artist Peter Evers demonstrating “The Rubber Hand Illusion” at the Gallery of Photography Ireland in 2014.