Emerging from the economic and social fallout of the decline of the region’s heavy industries, communities in South Wales are re-defining themselves for a new future. However, old traditions and institutions persist along with particular rituals and behaviours.
David Barnes’ exhibition in solution captures some of the particularities, and peculiarities, of South Wales’ life. This new Ffotogallery commission, supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Caerphilly County Borough Council, reflects Barnes’ work over the last four years. As a continuation of his long-term preoccupation with life and history in the region, in solution explores the competing forces that can shape social identity and cultural change.
Barnes’ experimental approach to documentary connects disparate realms of experience, from the ritualised worlds of Freemasonry and similar organisations, to everyday life in rural settings and the globalised spaces of the factory or retail park. This is the first time a UK artist has been granted such long-term access to Masonic organisations and their meetings. Barnes mixes stills photography, video and collected objects to weave a rich, and at times surreal, tale about life in the South Wales Valleys and the areas bordering England.
David Drake, Ffotogallery’s Director, comments:
“David Barnes is a great storyteller, capturing both the strange and familiar. This exhibition offers a remarkable ‘insider’ perspective on some extraordinary practices that lie behind everyday reality in Wales”.