April 5 - June 30, 2010
The photographs in this exhibition span the period 1979-2004 and form a small selection taken from a unique digital collection of some six hundred or so images which is housed in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. Murals began to appear in Northern Ireland at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s and were used by both Republicans and Loyalists in the war which had started in 1969 and which was to end (at least officially) only in 1998. The murals were a significant mode of cultural and historical representation which developed over a period of some twenty-five years of conflict. Sites of historical contestation, the walls were used to make overtly political declarations, to depict the conflict in brutal ways, and to express humour and irony to mock or satirise; they asserted specific standpoints, expressed community concerns, and engaged in forms of ideological interpellation. Yet the murals did more than simply articulate political viewpoints since they were also used to create physical, cultural and conceptual space. Walking the streets of Belfast and Derry--as the citizens did, as British soldiers did, as the media did, as tourists were later to do--it was impossible not to be addressed by the murals. The walls spoke historically, although what they said and how you understood them depended very much on who you were and what you were doing there. Whoever you were, and whatever your purpose, it was impossible to ignore them. They were, and remain, fascinating historical documents which belong to a conflict whose consequences continue to affect the political life of Ireland, Britain and of course Northern Ireland itself.
Photographs and curation by Tony Crowley, Hartley Burr Alexander Chair in the Humanities, Scripps College. For more information, contact Special Collections: 909-607-3977, or firstname.lastname@example.org.