The photograph above is included in the Art in the Eastside Billboard 2014 exhibition across parts of East Belfast.
If there was a theme I took it to be inclusive of whatever aspects of the City and its cultural life , its people, its uniqueness. The callout was fairly generous and it has been approached in so many different ways the return is a very diverse collection of photographs depicting various artists take on the challenge.
What do you see?
I saw straight away, on a break from a charity stall nearby I was assisting at, the 12th July bands; it was taken this year, had stopped and instead of having the customary rest started a game. They formed a large circle, the whole lot of them gathered in a huge circle on the road and did the hokey – cokey. It was people being right in the moment, spontaneous fun.
It shows a community band highly spirited and highly involved in the whole day out experiencing together not just the common thread of being in the band but the camaraderie of community and collective joy.
It is so rich an image and contrary to the normally viewed antagonistic propaganda fed concept of Loyalist marching, this in its proper frame of mind. What effect can a March have? How inferred, an act of conjecture, managed perception is present? In the present it is the outsider who collects and makes a complete new history of what is being seen.
The inferences concerning the military and army groups are seen from banners related to events past. They are not now, they do not represent the present. They are the mere cultural collective narrative as it has advanced, how it has been and is articulated.
When the new tendency to march in period uniforms, made in the finest versions of the woolen and cotton representations, with belts in nickled metalwork the purpose is to antagonises. They do not create the theatre that the men going to their deaths faced. It is sickening both sides try to perform the part of the soldier, the part of the fighter when they dress up witless of past history and kid themselves of their assurity of projection.
They are the opposite of com reactive, they are deeply insulting of each and every soldier, man or women who for whatever their motives where found themselves facing the prospect of war and the chance of being killed or killing. Into the intervening period with risk dramatically reduced by acts of terrorism it is a bizarre transition to see balaclavas on people marching – out in the open – as if they were in the open in whatever circumstances they represent. They instead would be totally concerned with not being visible being hidden. Now the cowardly act is theatered as a march. Mindless.
History is a Memory
From a clear background they are up for and not afraid to pay respect to the past history they have been handed and carry on with traditions set down long before.
The hideous side of things is the hijacking by drunks, trouble makers, godless folk, violent minded people who denigrate the very group they claim to support. No one has any pretensions that this celebrates none other than the Battle of the Boyne. A battle with Imperialism that created a virulent imperialism.
In an earlier blog I celebrated the fact this picture showed that it as cultures throughout Europe, in far off places, Brazil, Mexico in common with people with a particular history get to experience the feeling of connection back down the ages. The rituals, uniforms, music, celebrations, displays are very evidently rooted in something. It is the shared something which many self – identify with.
So the title of the photograph has several meanings.
First up I see it describing the people thinking of the day they are in.
Being conscious and mindful of other people they share a common interest with.
The overriding outcome they desire is fun and friendly banter and reconnection.
To see it derided and categorized as a component of conflict renewed and conflict reaffirming a past is far from the reality. In the days before certainly there were many lives lost in the heat of battle and many a false move twixt hand and glove. The banners portray simplified victors. The portray keepers of the history and create a myth and eulogies people whose part has been brutal and of themselves conflicted.
The history like opposite histories contains a pile of dangerous perceived and untruths carried forth as the document.
For the local case history book to be opened, opened at any page from the story comes another complex contradiction.
Seeing our Times
Seeing our times is about realising what it is that represents today, now in and of itself. The actual gathering of who, people you know and people you speak with in other parts of your life. The mix is vast. So many differences already exist within the group that the dynamic shows the closest way to be a fellowship is to take part in what you identify as yours.
Some other photographs in Art in the Eastside.
28 October 2014