Bank Gallery (High Street)
27th April – 24th June, 2023
Belfast Exposed is delighted to present Blinded by the very force it imagines it could handle, a new film from Donovan Wylie and Peter Mann, which contains never before seen footage from the demolition of the Maze Prison in 2007.
Blinded by the very force it imagines it could handle builds on work done by Wylie as part of his landmark exhibition The Maze (2004) – which was first shown at Belfast Exposed – that saw Wylie given access to the Maze/Long Kesh Prison site as in stood empty, but kept ready for future use, in Northern Ireland’s post-Good Friday Agreement political landscape. By this time, the Maze had become a location synonymous with the Trouble, due to its role in holding ‘special category’ prisons with links to paramilitary organisations and as the site of the infamous Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s. It was arguably one of the most famous prisons in the world. Despite having been emptied in the years following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the site was maintained and kept in readiness for several years, prepared in case conflict returned. It cast a long shadow over the early years of post-Good Friday Agreement Northern Ireland, as the first steps towards devolved, power-sharing government were being made.
It was in this context that Wylie was given free, unsupervised access to the Maze in order to document the site. His images captured both the physical structure of the prison, as well as the psychological impact of the Maze’s architecture. The Maze brought Wylie widespread critical acclaim and was a powerful documentation of living history in Northern Ireland.
In 2007, Donovan Wylie and filmmaker Peter Mann recorded the demolition of an internal perimeter wall of the Maze/Long Kesh Prison, as part of Wylie’s work to document the demolition of the site following the prison’s final closure. It is this, previously unseen, work that forms the basis of Blinded by the very force it imagines it could handle.
In this new work, Wylie continues to chronicle the architecture of conflict. His work is rooted in the idea of art as an antidote to the nihilism that conflict can induce, and was influenced by his experiences as a child growing up during the Troubles (Wylie was born in Belfast in 1971). In Blinded by the very force it imagines it could handle, the scenes of the demolition are directed so that at different moments, the viewer feels oppressed by the wall of the Maze, and then paradoxically protected by it. The almost overwhelming sound as the wall is destroyed evokes Wylie’s childhood memories of sleep broken by explosions in the city, and the destruction of the wall creates a space into which a sense of peace emerges. The film features excerpts of Simone Weil’s ‘The Iliad or the Poem of Force’, read by Paula McFetridge.
Belfast Exposed will also be using Blinded by the very force it imagines it could handle as an opportunity to publicly open the Bank Gallery, a new complex of exhibitions and event spaces and artist studios on Belfast’s High Street. This will be the first public event held in the Bank Gallery.
Tickets also available from: Visit Belfast | 028 90 246 609
9 Donegall Square North - Open 7 days a Week