Contacts from the Archive

17 DECEMBER 2010 TO 18 JANUARY 2011

Belfast Exposed

Michael Farrelly, Kathryn Foster, Yvonne Kennan and Laura McDowell

Contacts from the Archive is an exhibition of contact sheets from Belfast Exposed’s community photography archive which houses over half a million images.

Contact Sheets are working documents that aid photographers in selecting which images to print and are not intended for publication or exhibiting.   Each sheet is 10 x 8 inches in size with up to 36 images.  While the contents of the contact sheets vary, the format stays the same and this repetitiveness gives the artists a freedom to explore the various themes reoccurring within the archive.

The history of the Belfast Exposed archive and the city is written in each of the contact sheets.  Over the past 30 years numerous photographers, artists, community workers, researchers and archivists have accessed the archive for various reasons, leaving their trace by marking the prints with pens and stickers, cataloguing selections or imposing their own intuitive archival structures on the surface of the contact sheets.

In this exhibition each artist was invited to select and respond to a contact sheet, resulting in an exhibition which questions the constructed narratives of photography, contact sheets, and the archive. The reoccurring themes within the archive, such as editing process, commissions, photojournalism, digital versus film and public versus private, have been explored through the chosen contact sheets.

The exhibition allows the audience to view the contents of the archive in alternative, unexpected and challenging ways.

Exhibition website: