Enda Bowe – Twice Still – Regional Cultural Centre
Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
Tuesday 21 April –
Saturday 30 May 2020
Private View & Artist’s Talk: 24 April 2020
Curated by Gallery of Photography Ireland, this exhibition brings together two of Enda Bowe’s most significant projects to date. His open-ended visual narratives offer subtle new perspectives on life in contemporary Ireland.
For Love’s Fire Song, Bowe worked over an extended period of time with young people on both sides of Belfast’s peace walls, built to separate Unionist and Nationalist communities. While he concentrates on events around the symbolic bonfires held on the Twelfth of July and in August, in this work Bowe moves beyond established ways of picturing the city in order to pursue a quieter, more understated encounter with youth culture in Belfast today. Free from obvious signs of political and geographical context, or even reference to the specific locations where they were made, the photographs speak to a longing that encompasses the aspirations and vulnerabilities of young people in Belfast, who now find themselves facing an even more uncertain future. These intimate, cinematic portraits touch on a shared sense of joy and sorrow, independent of individual backgrounds, inherited sense of place or religious belief.
Similarly, Bowe’s project At Mirrored River considers a small, struggling industrial town in the Irish midlands, but it does not literally document the conditions that exist there. Bowe’s way of seeing is more intuitive and emotional, concerned with how people live, rather than social or historical fact. Again, his focus is on ordinary places and the experiences of young people whose lives have been impacted by changing social conditions. The project title was inspired by the Gaelic word teannalach (pron. “chann-ah-lack”) used in the West of Ireland, which means ‘awareness.’ In particular, it is an awareness of everything that is intangible and overlooked. Through his deeply empathetic portraiture and attentiveness to the everyday, Bowe is asking us to find genuine beauty where others might only see mundane situations, hope and optimism apart from the often destructive influence of history on the present. In these two projects he reaches for the universal themes of human experience by locating the commonalities that exist between seemingly disparate places and lives.
Supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Reconciliation Funds.