Sounds like a long pilgrimage back on my footsteps, I know, but I can't avoid remembering.. I came to Northern Ireland over twenty years ago. It was the beginning of the end of the Trouble, the fight, the killings.. In fact the subject of the story I was to shoot for Atlante magazine was the idea of going back visiting this region, open it to international contacts, help healing the wounds.. The reality was still tense: I was stopped on a country road at dusk by English soldiers who checked my passport. The officer told me "welcome to the UK!".. I said "It's a warm welcome to Ireland.." he looked at me and said "..a very warm welcome indeed!"
Well, it's a different story now. No border crossing with the Republic, flocks of Irish coming here to shop thanks to a weaker Pound, and many tourists visiting the region. And visiting even Belfast that in those years was not even worth a few hours stop. The city is improving, offering services and sightseeing. The Titanic construction dock has become a tourist attraction itself.
But, more surprising on how history redefine itself, there is even a tour to the political murals that signed the territory, and were in fact a warning to where you could go only if you belonged to a certain group. The community just sponsored a project for new murals, this time dedicated to history and peace, to disguise the wary message that the old images keep reminding.
A need probably stronger then what it looks at first sight. The divisions where, and still are, in the poorest areas of the city. The feeling is that a crisis could easily restart a fight among these guys that still shows loyalist and republican tattoos on their arms.. And the economic crisis of these times, badly felt in here, could be a dangerous ignition..
Jun 13, 2009
Years back, well, several years back, I came to Dublin on the James Joyce footprints. The project was to shoot a story based on some of his sentences from Dubliners and Ulysses: few, abstract images, with a strong link to the mood of the poetry rather then to faces and places. I found what I was looking for, the story was published, and sow the first signs of the re-evaluation of Joyce as a national hero. But today.. God.. I see his face on postcards, his sentences on biscuit packages, illiterate students eating McDonalds on his statue.. Not really what was in his mind, in his dreams, in his literary and cultural intentions, that's sure! But Dublin has gone the same way as the rest of the World is going: global, flat, obvious.. Pub music is for tourists, Guinness in for look and not for taste, Temple Bar is for trash drunks and not for fun.. The crisis has struck hard and deep, freezing all the enthusiasm, the illusion of a booming society growing without borders and limits.. The crowd has in fact turned multi-racial, but limits have shown themselves, clearly..
"Introibo ad altare Dei" says Mulligan at the very start of Ulysses, on top of the Sandycove Martello tower.. This is what his view would be today: not really an "altare Dei" environment anymore..
at 10:36 AM