This area of the river Lagan, which runs through Belfast, has man-made structures that control water levels upstream and artificially regulate the river’s flow. Completed in 1994, the Lagan Weir represents Belfast’s history of investment in its industry and the structures that support it. The river has been central to the commercial growth of the city. Since Belfast’s origins in the 1600s, it has provided the city with water, food, transportation, trading, defence and its residents with work, leisurely activities, and a natural respite from congestion and the urban environment. Over the centuries, its course has been reshaped by capitalism, through land reclamation and other coastal infrastructure projects.
Though the Lagan represents a man-made system, Michael Hanna is interested in how this highly-regulated volume of moving water nevertheless has the ability to transcend the analytical logic of the camera’s artificial eye or the systemic efficiency of human control to enter a symbolic, subconscious space that lies beyond the limits of language. The river hyper-dynamic surface holds invisible life and unseen dangerous depths; an eternally unknown primal place of mysteries and legends.
Using a Hasselblad medium format camera, Hanna tested the photographic medium’s capacity to transform this movement into solid form. Hanna’s images attempt to capture the impossible, providing glimpses of another place that exists somewhere between the psychological, physical, and cultural imagination.
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