In late October, 2019, Magnum photographer Antoine d’Agata travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, as part of a commission from Belfast Exposed photography festival. His aim was to create a representative vision of contemporary life there, through cityscapes and portraits. His journey around the Northern Irish capital was loosely dictated by its ring-road, which the photographer used as a basis for instinctive deeper explorations of the various areas it courses through.
Throughout his wanderings D’Agata spoke to eleven individuals he came across, whom he did not photograph. Their frank and anonymous explanations of their lives, and their views of the city, were recorded in eleven unedited audio files. These voices are reproduced as meters-long typed transcripts in the exhibition of the work, and through these the voices emerge as eleven distinct, symbolic and invisible characters in d’Agata’s visual survey.
The full, unedited transcripts of the eleven anonymous voices can be read here.
Deirdre Robb, CEO of Belfast Exposed noted that, “None of the participants are known to Antoine, or to each other, so there is an excellent opportunity for Antoine to capture and interpret what he senses is happening in the city, on this ring road of life we are all circumnavigating.”
Unintentionally, the eleven voices – much like the geographical guidewire of the ring-road – result in a randomized, non-subjective sample of Belfast life. “Whilst the eleven participants are varied across age, gender, diversity, ethnicity and ability,” notes Robb, “None of [their photos] will actually fully feature in the exhibition, so their privacy will be maintained, which adds to the visual narrative of the exhibition. Their voices will act as the story of Belfast, right here, right now.”
D’Agata will return to Belfast in early 2020 to complete the project. Here we share a small edit of the new work, including landscapes, d’Agata’s image grids, and portraits.
The work will be on show at Belfast Exposed until December 21, 2019.