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The psychogeography of sectarianism in Northern Irish photography
in Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom
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This chapter considers the work of three Northern Irish art photographers (John Duncan, Paul Seawright and Willie Doherty), all of whom have documented the construction of Northern Ireland’s sectarian landscapes during either the Troubles and/or the post-conflict period. It argues that, when Northern Irish sectarianism is visualised through photography, these artists cultivate a grammar of belonging that, controversial as it may sound, contradicts the placeless desires of global capital. That is, by urging us to see the relationship between physical space and partisan attitudes, these photographers re-affirm the human capacity to produce spatial meanings that rub against capitalism’s standardising demands. This praxis occupies the same conceptual territory as psychogeography, creating a dialectic in which the dominance of capital is made known and simultaneously undermined. Central to the effectiveness of this argument is the photographic theory of Ariella Azoulay and the photographic lineages of the New Topographics. Through their work, the chapter considers how photography might create a politics of spectatorship that could help orientate this medium towards a more critical engagement with both the politics of space and the vernaculars of consumer capital.

Northern Ireland and the politics of boredom

Conflict, capital and culture

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