These 2 women have nipped out of the corner shop on the Shankill road for a quick cigarette, standing by a protestant paramilitary mural of which only about half can be seen. Although they seem oblivious to it, murals like this serve as a constant reminder of the underlying forces at work in large parts of Belfast, both Republican and Loyalist. Art at its most effective: you paint out work like this at your peril.
A local teenager runs past this memorial to one of the victims of inter-factional asassination. The poem, by Siegfried Sassoon, written of the 1st World War, provides the irony: thousands have died in Northern Ireland`s `Troubles,` the vast majority, people who had no involvement in paramilitary organisations but were innocent`civilians.` Murals like these still very effectively remind local people of which organisation`s territory their streets fall within.
From where I stood, it seemed that the massive, black balaclaved figure was poised to shoot the unsuspecting pedestrian approaching. Ironic in view of the claim of paramilitary organisations to`protect and serve,` rather than intimidate and control.
Taken at Moricz Zsigmond korter, Budapest, by carefully positioning myself and aligning the central figure of a large tableau, a prince of Hungary, with the Golden Arches of the MacDonalds restaurant nearby. (Artistic license rotated the prince 180 degrees.) Indiscriminate permission allows many large scale advertising images to be displayed in public spaces. It seems the assumption made is that we are unaware the disharmony that results: that it`s of no account in the quality of our lives.
It`s just a painting: but when you`re standing there, looking down that gun barrel, the feeling of imminent danger is so powerful that you have to look away. Like the eyes of pictures, the gun sight follows you until you`re way off-line.
Trying to defuse the realities of paramilitary control, and in order to avoid possible derailment of the `peace process,` the UK government is alleged to be paying out large sums to the paramilitaries in order to get permission to have paramiltary-style murals replaced by those of legend or of local history. In this context, all mural art has a powerful presence, not only by virtue of size, but by position in the heart of communities.
The woman, shaking her duster out her appartement window, provides the scale of the gigantic advertisement covering the adjoining building, of which that portion seen in the photograph is but a fraction. (See photo entitled `Boulevard.`) Advertising campaigns of these dimensions are now commonplace: another visual assault over which we have no direct control.
This advertisement, photographed from across the Danube, is so large and so bizarre in the context of the the living space it has been placed into that it seems as though a window has opened in space and we are glimpsing another massively enlarged, parallel universe.