Event Date May 31, 2017 9:30 a.m. – May 1, 2017
Location – The Sustainable Studio, 7 Curran Rd, Cardiff CF10 5NE
As part of the third Diffusion International Photography Festival in Cardiff, eCDR’s Director – Dr Russell Roberts, has curated an exhibition of photographs used in the 1969 court case of the Crown versus the Free Wales Army (FWA). The exhibition – Hidden Country: Photographs of the Free Wales Army 1966-69, is a collaboration with the National Library of Wales and consists of facsimile prints that show how both police and paramilitary groups used photography as visual evidence and as propaganda. These images belong to an important moment of 'direct action’ in Welsh history, underlining the power of images to both incriminate but also to disrupt the political landscape.
The prints show FWA members along with items recovered from raids including ammunition, uniforms and flags, record photography of various locations associated with FWA activity, in contrast with self-determined images that functioned as propaganda through romantic and heroic images of the freedom fighter. The material qualities of the prints in decay are not without a formal or indeed seductive beauty but this invites closer scrutiny of both the image itself, its history as an object, and the social and political conditions behind its making.
As material traces of a particular historical moment some 40 years since the Investiture, the exhibition invites reflection on questions of nationalism and the role of images to both support and undermine it. Hidden Country draws attention to the ways that archives shape historical consciousness and how exhibitions can offer an antidote to forgetting by suggesting new frames of reference. The question of surveillance and subversion, of dominion over potential threat through the power of images, still holds important contemporary relevance, setting the possibilities of ‘direct action’ against the rhetoric of images to generate political discussion and instigate change.