This exhibition presents our latest contemporary acquisition, a film by Belfast based artist and filmmaker Seamus Harahan.
Holylands was made over the period of a year and a half from 2001 to 2003, shot through the artist’s window and on the streets occupying a 20 yard radius from his house in Belfast. The title Holylands is the name of his neighbourhood, named after the titles of its streets - Jerusalem Street, Palestine Street, Damascus Street, Carmel Street and Cairo Street. The area was originally developed by a property firm, headed by Robert McConnell a devout Christian. It is also a district of the city that combines a transient student population with more long-term residents.
The film in part depicts these people going about their every day lives, showing fragments of their negotiations through this territory but it firmly resists either a documentary or narrative approach. A bag lady rummages in a bin, young boys play with a water pipe, and a delivery van unloads out side a shop. It is an ordinary snapshot of an extraordinary area, defined by its history of religious divide and social unrest.
The film’s images are spliced together with an evocative soundtrack that includes hip-hop, traditional Irish and classical music to provide a counterbalance to the images and enables them to work as abstract sequences.
Holylands was last exhibited at the 2007 Venice Biennale. This work was acquired through the Contemporary Art Society’s new acquisitioning scheme. In 2009 Wolverhampton Art Gallery were part of the first cluster of galleries to take part in the scheme, which for this round focused on moving image.
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