Group Portrait with Explosives connects the former country of Czechoslovakia with South Armagh in Northern Ireland. Though not areas that one would normally associate with one another, through the vagaries of industrial manufacturing and international trade, an imperceptible link has been made between the two.
The historico-political narratives of these two places are bound together through personal recollections of South Armagh in the late 1970s and early 1980s where I spent much time in childhood. Obsessed with military paraphernalia as a child, I persuaded my father, a trained carpenter, to make me a series of weapons not being produced by toy manufacturers, rendering him, in essence, my personal arms manufacturer. Incidences such as this are contrasted with direct and, in some cases violent, encounters family members had with British security forces at the time.
The film follows on from previous works, such as Mine Are of Trouble, which used personal narratives to reflect on complex political scenarios. Functioning as a quasi sequel, Group Portrait with Explosives considers the highly delicate relationship with authorities that people develop in hostile political environments, while simultaneously considering the cause and effect relationship of international trade and politics and the impact it has on seemingly disparate and unconnected regions.
After the screening will be be joined for a Q&A with director and artist Declan Clarke and Sarah Perks, Artistic Director of Visual Art here at HOME and Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art, MMU.