152MC – Trees From Germany by John Duncan

At the beginning of this year my lecturer was cleaning out his bookshelf and gave out some unwanted photo books that he had no longer use of. I look through them all but there was only one that was calling out to me. This book was Trees From Germany by John Duncan. I’ve been reading this photobook as inspiration for my final book. John Duncan is a documentary photographer from Belfast, Northern Ireland and current works as the editor for Source magazine. After coming across his book I wanted to know more about what he does how he came to bring this book to life. He is also the patron of the previously mentioned Belfast exposed gallery, which I have visited myself before. In November 2002 Belfast Exposed Photography commissioned John Duncan to produce a photographic work of Belfast post-conflict on the threshold of progress. Which he then produced images for Trees from Germany. It took him five years to bring this book to what is it. In this work, Duncan explores some of the realities of the apartments, hotels and offices that have now been built and in particular how they interface with pre-existing aspects of the city. John has produced a variety of body’s of work that is well recognizable. Covering the themes of City Regeneration, Cultural Identities and Social Divisions. “Trees from Germany”, was made in 2003. It explores the ongoing regeneration of Belfast and shows the troubles that Belfast has had, and how the City has attempted to fix it. In this book I feel the troubles of Northern Ireland has been well documented.

In the introduction to this book, David Brett explains two intentions of John Duncan’s work. The first is that a city is not a place, but a process, and secondly though we can see this process, we rarely look at it. His photos bring attention to locations in which we wouldn’t bring attention to. Everywhere in a city there is work, construction and building. John’s picture does not only show the process of the work, but how contradictory nature of the process. The ‘new and reconstructed Belfast’ does not eliminate the issues of the ‘Old Belfast’, but reproduces them under a new form and view.

The main thing I want to discus is not the pictures in the book but the text at the beginning. I’m thinking of having text in my final book because I want to make my narrative story clear. At the beginning of John Duncan’s book, David Brett includes text, to give the audience some knowledge of whats to come when looking more into the book. This is what I want to do for my project. I was thinking about including Alison’s story at the beginning, as this is a story line of her life, from start to finish, which is exactly what I want my pictures to represent. This is something I need to think about more in detail. I am going to look at other different photobooks, and see how other photographers have represented this. This will give me more inspiration with text, but also more inspiration on what I want to tell my audience.

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