A group exhibition that looks anew at the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland fifty years on from the marches and peaceful protests that immediately preceded the Troubles has opened in Nerve Visual Gallery, Ebrington.
The Lost Moment curated by Sean O’Hagan, who writes on photography, art and culture for The Guardian and The Observer, places the Northern Irish civil rights struggle in the context of the many international street protests that made 1968 such a tumultuous year. The show is produced by Gallery of Photography Ireland in partnership with the Nerve Centre, Derry~Londonderry and will run until June 17.
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 argues that this was the lost moment when the Troubles might have been averted.
The exhibition features 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, is 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 includes 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.
Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in NI added: “We are delighted to see the launch of this initial exhibition which is part of the wider HLF supported programme of activities to explore 1968 and the Civil Rights movement. 1968 was a defining period for NI so we welcome this open and thoughtful project by the Nerve Centre and their partners, which will give people lots of opportunities to engage with the local and global events. We are always keen to fund heritage projects that can enrich our understanding of NI’s heritage. It is thanks to National Lottery players that we can invest in projects such as this one.”
The organisers thank RTE Archives, Remote Photo Festival, the Cain Archive at Ulster University, Belfast Archive Project, Linen Hall Library, National Museums Northern Ireland and Tower Museum. Gallery of Photography is supported by The Arts Council and Dublin City Council.
Gallery of Photography is supported by The Arts Council and Dublin City Council.