Martin Seeds (born in Belfast) dedicates his artistic practice to an ongoing examination of Northern Irish identity, politics and place. He employs differing modes of experimentation with photographic process as a means of encouraging us to reconsider the image and look again. No Country For Young Men looks back, via appropriation, at a series of found portraits in a Belfast school yearbook from 1965. This was a time, a few years before the civil conflict known as “The Troubles” started, when political tensions in Northern Ireland were rising and trouble was brewing. Seeds’ act of appropriation places these 1960s school portraits into our current moment, and from our historical vantage point asks us to consider how individual lives in Northern Ireland were affected by the backdrop of a violent conflict that would last for 30 years.
“What will become of these boys, their youth and their fragile aspirations, as the shadow of history falls across their lives? It is not just the past that is hauntingly present in these humble portraits, but the looming, uncertain, tumultuous future” Sean O’Hagan
No Country For Young Men is the first in a new series of exhibitions and events that will take place at Seen Fifteen as part of a wider project, The Troubles Generation. Looking ahead to a significant future moment in UK and Irish history with the 25th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement in 2023, the project seeks to examine the legacy of The Troubles from the viewpoint of artists born into its divided society and with lived experience of growing up during the conflict. Taking a phased approach to developing photographic projects and new writing, the ultimate ambition is to create a large-scale touring exhibition in 2023.