29th May 2019 in Arts

“The camera never lies,” goes the saying, but in an era of digital manipulation and fake news, does it still ring true?

This year’s Belfast Photo Festival explores this idea, and organisers believe photography has a crucial role to play in an era where billions of new images are captured daily and content is consumed at a staggering rate. They’ve taken “Truth and Lies” as the rather timely theme for this year’s festival, which returns to the city next Thursday.

At a wonderful programme launch in The Cathedral Quarter on 16th May, it was announced this year’s festival would  run from Thursday 6th – Sunday 30th June, presenting an impressive month-long offering of events and exhibitions exploring the role of photography in the era of post-truth, ‘alternative facts’ and online fakery.

Belfast Photo Festival Director Michael Weir presents the 2019 programme at Bullitt Hotel.

Of the festival’s 25 Belfast venues, 12 fall within the Cathedral Quarter and there are no fewer than 31 events and exhibitions taking place either within those venues, or in conjunction with them (namely, the GoldenThread Gallery pop up at Castle Court).

The Belfast Cathedral Quarter Photo Festival venues are:

Among this year’s CQ Belfast highlights is Jump Trump, the interactive exhibition by Dutch photographers Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels, which will be on display for the first time in the UK and Ireland. Exhibited at the Golden Thread Gallery, the installation sees the gallery space dominated by a one-metre deep inflated crash mat emblazoned with an image of the 45th President of the United States. Complete with a raised platform for daring visitors to jump onto the mat, it challenges audiences to get up close to the politician’s face and express their feelings toward the influential and often controversial figure.

JumpTrump copyright Erik Kessels

Jump Trump forms part of a larger exhibition, Do Governments Lie?, at the gallery. Other works include Philippe Chancel’s Kim Happiness, a series of photographs taken in North Korea exploring the management of happiness by the country’s government, and Marc Lee’s video installation which trawls social media in real time and seamlessly weaves tweets, Instagram posts and YouTube uploads by political parties and their election candidates into a dystopian live television show.

At Belfast Exposed, Margins of Excess by Max Pinckers, who is listed among the ranks of Magnum Photos, presents a body of work looking at the role of mass media in communicating idiosyncratic versions of six individuals’ own reality who momentarily were subject to nationwide media attention and scrutiny in the US.

From Margins of Excess by Max Pinckers.

Hungry art lovers will be delighted to learn that the Belfast Photo Festival has teamed up with four Cathedral Quarter Belfast restaurants to offer 10% off your bill for the duration of the festival. They are:

Simply mention the Belfast Photo Festival when paying your bill!

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland-backed festival works to make visual art more accessible, explains Festival Director Michael Weir.

“We’re introducing it to public spaces and expanding our outdoor presence while making the artform interactive and engaging. Among the exhibitions that will take over these spaces, as well as those hosted in our partner galleries and venues, are significant bodies of work hand-picked for Belfast Photo Festival by representatives from global institutions such as Tate Modern, the New York-based Aperture Magazine and Magnum Photos; the agency behind some of the most striking and influential photographs of 20th century.”

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland proudly supports the Belfast Photo Festival which celebrates some of the finest local, national and international photography around. Its extensive, impressive programme encourages active engagement with this popular art form whether that’s through attending exhibitions, taking part in workshops or through public displays and I would encourage everyone to get involved.”

As well as its extensive programme showcasing globally renowned names, including multi-national media and broadcasting company VICE, the festival will exhibit works from lesser-known artists through its Open Submission programme which attracted almost 32,000 entries from 83 countries.

Michael said: “Our Open Submission proved hugely successful this year and demonstrates just influential and well-recognised Belfast Photo Festival is on the international stage; established and challenger artists are eager to exhibit on our shores.”

The winner of the 2019 Belfast Photo Festival Open Submission will be revealed in June at the opening ceremony on Thursday 6th June.


For more information on this year’s festival, visit belfastphotofestival.com and keep up-to-date on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll have all the Cathedral Quarter events and exhibitions in our What’s On Guide before the weekend. As ever, if you’re at a Festival event in the Cathedral Quarter, be sure to tag us (@cqbelfast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and use the #CQBelfast hashtag.

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