Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day

Mary McIntyre's photographs raise questions, but encourage the viewer to provide their own answers

Mary McIntyre’s latest exhibition, Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day, feels immediately cinematic.

Exhibited in the roomy Belfast Exposed gallery, her photographs are accompanied by a large floor-based installation resembling a wooden stage. Before the viewer has time to digest the images, the concepts of theatricality and performance are lodged in the brain.

The six photographs are presented in large format (each over a metre in length and breadth), featuring a series of tranquil rural and suburban scenes. But there is a narrative here, and the theme most prevalent is that of voyeurism. Characters occasionally peer out of McIntyre's images, whilst, all the while, the viewer peers in.

The first piece, ‘A Complex Variety of Greens (from Emerald to Viridian)', features a scene by a pond’s edge. There is not much to look at here, scarcely anything in the frame except varying shades of green, from the various bushes and trees to the murky water. Even the pond is a meandering trail of deep emerald sludge.

The eponymous ‘Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day’, meanwhile, reinforces the cinematic feel. This second image is of a room carpeted in green shot through a large, misty window. The scale of the piece and the angle of the shot places the viewer in the first person, as if they are staring indoors.

The fourth image is the only one in which an individual is portrayed. It is a lonely figure, semi-obscured in shadow, peering through binoculars out a large bay window. In this photograph, ‘The Wordless Exchange’, the act of viewing raises further questions of performance. Is this quiet observer looking outward towards us, the audience, or are we the performers on the stage?

The final two images, somewhat detached from the rest, are similar in subject matter and tone. Each depicts a badly neglected back yard. The use of light in these pieces is interesting: rays of sunlight appear to batter down broken fences.

Whilst serene, a sense of foreboding accompanies these scenes of once animated environments fallen into disrepair and decay. There is a distinct feeling of tension between the natural and the man-made.

On the whole, this exhibition raises some interesting questions. However, whilst it is clear that the viewer should infer their own sense of meaning from these meditative images, I can’t help but wish for a little more going on within the frame.

Silent, Empty, Waiting for the Day is exhibited at Belfast Exposed until October 14.