Paul Seawright Exposes the Things Left Unsaid

Ulster Museum hosts the renowned photographer's new exhibition exploring the American broadcast media's depiction of modern warfare

A new exhibition by internationally renowned photographer Paul Seawright, exploring contemporary conflict and its portrayal by US television news studios, has opened at the Ulster Museum.

Entitled Things Left Unsaid, the exhibition is a series of photographs of US television news studios in which the war in Iraq was reported. Seawright focuses on the illusory nature of these spaces, where information is selectively transformed into news, as well as the 'things left unsaid' by the absence of images depicting the brutality and destruction of war.

'I’m delighted that the exhibition will be seen in Belfast,' says Seawright. 'Although it’s particularly about television news studios in the USA and their patchy reporting of war; it has resonance here in Northern Ireland. We have a lengthy history of television news in relation to the conflict here.

'The mediation of war is fraught with problems – and 24 hour rolling news is something people here will recognise as having a difficult relationship with how a place, time or events are understood and represented. The exhibition draws parallels between the technology of warfare (drones, remote weapons, surveillance equipment telecommunications) and the news studio, where the landscape of the studio begins to represent the contemporary battlefield.'

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Born in Belfast in 1965, Paul Seawright is considered one of the leading photographers of his generation. His photographs of battle sites and minefields have subsequently been exhibited in North America, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and China. 

'Professor Seawright’s work has deservedly achieved international prominence and he has long been considered a foremost photographer on conflict art,' adds Anne Stewart, Curator of Fine Art at National Museums Northern Ireland. 'This is a fascinating exhibition – it explores not so much what is in the photographs, but indeed, what has been left out.

'It prompts the viewer to consider why that has been the case and what the reality actually looks like. In many ways, it challenges the sanitisation of television news and the absence of harsh realities.'

Seawright is Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster. In 2003, he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art and in 1997 won the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize. On Thursday, October 1 he will be delivering a talk examining the themes of contemporary conflict and journalism at the Ulster Museum.

Things Left Unsaid is now open to the public and runs until April 3, 2016.