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Paul Seawright at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of large-format photographs by the Belfast-born artist Paul Seawright, created in response to recent travels in Afghanistan, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 18 September 2003. In June 2002, Seawright was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum, London, to travel to Afghanistan to investigate landscapes that had been contaminated with exploded ordinance and mines. The twelve works in Paul Seawright: hidden are his response to that experience.

Seawright deliberately avoids the more familiar, exotic vision of Afghanistan, as the spectacle of ruins portrayed by the media. His photographs of bleached desert landscapes and bomb-damaged buildings are sparse and understated, silent and depopulated; less concerned with the visible scars of war than the hidden malevolence of its terrain. Seawright’s response to these heavily mined desert landscapes draws upon, extends and reworks the distinctive aesthetic he has established through earlier photographs of contested, politically contaminated landscapes made first within his home city of Belfast and more recently on the fringes of a number of European cities. In one of the catalogue essays Mark Durden, Reader in the History and Theory of Photography, University of Derby, draws parallels with Seawright’s Sectarian Murder series, made in Belfast in the late 1980s: “One finds a similar pictorial innocence, a contradictory sense of calm and normality in the image. One also finds the attempt to confront that which cannot be seen, the sense of an invisible threat on menace.”

Born in Belfast in 1965, Paul Seawright studied at the University of Ulster and Surrey College of Art and Design. Since first coming to international attention in the 1980s, his work has been widely exhibited throughout Europe and the USA. In 1997 he was awarded the IMMA/Glen Dimplex Artists Award. He lives and works in Newport, Wales, where he is Professor and Director of the Centre for Photographic Research.

Paul Seawright: hidden is an Imperial War Museum commissioned exhibition and is curated by Angela Weight, its Keeper of the Department of Art. The exhibition tour is organised in collaboration with the ffotogallery, Llanduno, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Cardiff, and IMMA. Paul Seawright’s visit to Afghanistan was made possible with assistance from Landmine Action, the HALO Trust and the United Nations.

On Thursday 18 September at 11.30am, in the Ground Floor Galleries, Paul Seawright will discuss his exhibition and Angela Weight, Keeper of the Department of Art, Imperial War Museum, will give an introduction to the commissioning programme at the Imperial War Museum. Booking essential on tel: 01-6129948; email [email protected].

A fully-illustrated catalogue, published by the Imperial War Museum, with essays by Mark Durden and John Stathatos, artist and writer, accompanies the exhibition (price €24.00).

The exhibition continues until 30 November 2003.

Admission is free.

Opening hours: Tue – Sat 10.00am – 5.30pm
Sun and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.30pm
Closed Mondays

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999, Email : [email protected]

20 August 2003