The Lost Moment Exhibition Launch

The Lost Moment Exhibition

Civil Rights, Street Protest and Resistance in Northern Ireland, 1968-69.

A group exhibition that looked anew at the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland fifty years on from the marches and peaceful protests that immediately preceded the Troubles.

The Lost Moment curated by Sean O’Hagan, who writes on photography, art and culture for The Guardian and The Observer, placed the Northern Irish civil rights struggle in the context of the many international street protests that made 1968 such a tumultuous year. The show was produced by Gallery of Photography Ireland in partnership with the Nerve Centre.

From Paris to Prague, Chicago to London, mass protests reverberated across the world via the TV news. The year of discontent began in Northern Ireland when activists organised civil rights marches against discrimination in housing and jobs. Using the tactics of non-violent civil disobedience employed by Martin Luther King Jr. in the American south, the marches unleashed a wave of Unionist counter-demonstrations. The often brutal police tactics used against the marchers were caught on camera and broadcast around the world, igniting global media interest in the Northern Irish civil rights movement. Though its legacy remains contested to this day, the exhibition argued that this was the lost moment when the Troubles might have been averted.

The exhibition featured dramatic images by Steve Schapiro of the famous Selma to Montgomery civil rights march in 1965, alongside work from three renowned Magnum photographers: David Hurn, Josef Koudelka and Ian Berry. The Northern Irish civil rights struggle, from the first march in August 1968 to the Battle of the Bogside in 1969, was captured through the work of Gilles Caron, Clive Limpkin, David Newell-Smith, Buzz Logan, Barney McMonagle, Eamon Melaugh, Larry Dickinson and Tony McGrath. The exhibition also included projections, film from RTE Archives, contemporary political posters and a wealth of other ephemera from the time.

The Lost Moment was supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.