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Contemporary Art and Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland: the Consolation of Form

by Vikki Bell
Vikki Bell opens a discussion for critical reflection surrounding the meaning of memory, past-present-future, and community in the article “Contemporary Art and Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland: The Consolation of Form.” Through the analysis of artists whose work reflects the issues in Northern Ireland, Bell explores what constitutes the idea of peace and the conditions that make it a possibility. With an examination of Ireland’s past-present and imagined future, the author reveals how the meaning of capitalism and normalization become synonymous.
In examining Anthony Haughey’s work, she writes on Haughey’s early photography, which includes his photographic series titled "Citizen," which focuses on immigration in Ireland’s past, present and future. Additionally, Bell writes about Haughey’s "Disputed Territory" photograph series, which are post-conflict photographs from different parts of Europe that reflect the idea that peace and Ireland’s violent past cannot coexist. The author also examines Haughey’s photograph titled "Lor Lor, Entrance to Former Butlin’s Mosney Holiday Camp Ballroom,” which is part of a body of work that uncovers the immigration wave occurring in Ireland. This photograph represents the past and present. The image is of an asylum seeker standing in a red room with a chandelier over her head; this room being an abandoned Butlin’s ballroom turned shelter in Mosney, Ireland. Bell’s examination of Haughey’s work seeks to address future anxieties regarding immigration and the Irish border by exposing Ireland’s past and present surrounding the concern.
Vikki Bell is an author whose work addresses questions of ethics, subjectivity, aesthetics and politics. Vikki Bell currently teaches Sociology and is the Head of the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London.
Bell, Vikki. “Contemporary Art and Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland: The Consolation of Form.” Journal of Visual Culture 10, no. 3 (2011): 324-353.
Review by Hanna Hendrickson-Rebizant
July 2019
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