Talkin' About My Generation

Photography exhibition explores contemporary sub-cultures, click Play Audio to watch an online exhibition

Described as a ‘subterranean sociology project’, Belfaskating is the result of a very personal relationship between Italian photographer Andrea Varacalli and the young punks, goths, emos, free runners and skaters living in post-conflict Belfast.  

Varacalli's exhibition was developed with Waterfront Artistic Troops (WAT?!), an organisation that includes many of the people featured in the exhibition itself.

Varacalli is an author, journalist, professional photographer and multimedia artist. He began his career Andrea Varacalliin 1992 as an analyst of nationalism and politics in Europe. A year later, he became the Northern Ireland and Basque Country security and political correspondent for Italian newspaper, Avvenire

The author of several reportages that focus on 21st century youths and extreme right wings across Europe, Varacalli is today the editor-in-chief for the sociological magazine Les Enfants Terribles. He is currently fully engaged in the development of the WAT?! group and the Belfaskating project represents the first achievement of the team.

'WAT?! was formed in January 2007 by me and seven others,' Varacalli explains. 'Physically we started to shoot Belfaskating in February 2007. 

'What you can see at the Linen Hall Library [where the exhibition took place] is a very small percentage of the bigger work, with 42 shots exhibited on canvas.

'This is our first project and it went very well. Awards are raining down. We are on the shortlist for the Outstanding Award UK to make safe some particular area of European cities.

'We have the full support of the Belfast City Council. We are ready now for our next two projects with the British Arts Council. We started with seven members, and now we have more than 80.'

GothsAccording to Martina Buckley, Department of Applied Psychology, UCC, Cork, Belfaskating looks at the world of a generation forgotten by the contradictions and confusions of a city still recovering from a conflict.

'[The exhibition] is a brave attempt to speak the same language as Belfast’s young people and to understand their visual creativity.

'The shots compose a fluid narrative of urban adolescence and youth. Stories are told by means of gestures, expressions and clothing.'

The end result is an absorbing and captivating exhibition that will leave viewers wanting to discover more about the people and the stories behind the pictures, and will also challenge them to reassess the way that they look at the world.

Lee Henry