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 David Richmond: The capability approach provides an alternative method of recording human development. Rather than focussing on economic measures (or on how people feel) it is about people’s capability to do and to be the things they themselves have reason to value….

The approach attracts me for a number or reasons:

Firstly, because it is a self-organised approach. I’m convinced that most attempts to help people don’t actually help. Certainly every attempt I’ve made to help people has ended up creating a measure of dependence rather than empowerment. The capability approach enables us to design projects as opportunities for people to build their capability thus helping people help themselves.

 

[divider]From BE website [/divider]

Building on extensive networks of communities and artists, we hope to discover new ways of working based on common values, which join up the rich diversity of our interests. Staying true to our founding mission, we continue to value photography as a way of challenging clichéd and reductive representation, so that people might better understand and be understood in the world.

[divider]Article from Source [/divider]

Martin_Bruhns_large_08_04_02_24-02-12From Belfast Exposed by Martin Bruhns

The origin of Belfast Exposed dates back to 1983 when a group of local photographers came up with the idea for an exhibition to which people from across Belfast were invited to bring their photographs, to provide an ‘amateurs insight into the varying images of Belfast’ (Brendan O’Reilly 1984). The response to this idea and to the eventual exhibition itself was so enthusiastic that it was taken not only to different venues within Belfast but was soon sent abroad. ‘It just snowballed from there.’…

The gallery space provided exhibition space both for local community groups and established photographers from within and outside of Belfast. Photographs taken by the photographers and by the participants of the workshops started to amass, adding to the corpus of images from which the initial exhibition had been formed and providing the foundation of an archive…

Like similar groups the activities of Belfast Exposed are diverse, encapsulating a variety of emphases that reflect the personal interests of the people involved, the needs of the local communities with which they work and the practical restrains of financial prudence. One major aspect of its activities is still the provision of workshops for local community groups. The groups themselves have become more knowledgeable about their own requirements and workshops themselves have to be more focused and accommodating to these demands, providing more than just basic photographic skills…

The archive has grown to include around half a million photographs. About one percent of this photographic wealth is currently being digitised and preparations are underway to make these available online…

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The initial idea, to provide an alternative and ‘amateur view’ of life in Belfast, was not merely an attempt to provide a forum for ‘ordinary’ people, whose access to means of visual expression would have been severely limited…

This was additionally done within the context of the violent confrontations that have characterised much of the life in Northern Ireland for over one generation. One of the initial organisers recalls: ‘we were also conscious of the amount of censorship that was going on in the media portrayal of events happening here, that people weren’t given enough information’. The aim of Belfast Exposed was therefore twofold: on the one hand, it wanted to show the full extent of life taking place beyond the images provided by the mainstream media and on the other to document the Troubles themselves to a fuller extent…

…one weakness that I perceive in the digitised version of the archive: it is lacking the private photographs that people have brought in as part of community group projects and exhibitions and that have been copied and kept. The reason that they are not represented is certainly influenced by questions of copyright. However this absence emphasises the exclusively documentary character of the archive…

This seems to suggest an inherent belief in the explanatory power of the image, as it was initially expressed when Belfast Exposed came into being. ‘The camera is an extremely powerful medium of communication, a means of commenting without having to utter a single word.’ It is not. The image can evoke emotion, but it needs other forms of communication to convey meaning and to explain. When one speaks to anyone about a particular picture stories just seem to flow, but these stories are not included in the archive…

It is in this respect that Belfast Exposed differs significantly from other community photography groups. Unlike these the main emphasis of Belfast Exposed is not in the questioning of the mechanism of visual representation, a deconstruction or subversion, but in the documentation of the social world within established photographic norms. On a local level this might be different in the exhibitions that are organised by community groups or as part of a workshop. Here different forms of visual display seem to be experimented with, but these do not find themselves reflected in the archive itself…

Today Belfast Exposed’s object, the city itself, is no longer dominated by an exclusively bipartisan Troubles narrative. Finally the staffing of Belfast Exposed has changed allowing a reorientation of the organisation’s objectives and a reappraisal of its motives. The combination of these factors places a strong Belfast Exposed in the enviable position of being able to create an even more diverse stylistic and thematic portrait of Belfast and discover a future role for community photography in the city.

Taken from original article on Source Photographic Review

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Interface Centre for Research in Art technologies and design.
Ulster University,  Belfast