Book Review: People In Trouble Laughing Pushed To The Ground


MAPP, the premier illustrated digital publisher, has recently come out with some new titles, one of which includes a digital edition of People In Trouble Laughing Pushed To The Ground, a collaborative project by Adam Broomberg and Adam Chanarin.

This publication is a compilation of artist selected images from the Belfast Exposed archive which was originally published in 2011.  The Belfast Exposed Community Archive houses over 14,000 black and white contact sheets taken by photo-jounalists, as well as amateur photographers during the troubled times of 1980’s Belfast. The original project was founded as a community initiative in 1983 to help address local concerns over the control of images depicting British military activity in Belfast.

 This digital edition recontextualizes the original work in which the artists selected images from the Belfast Exposed archive according to a code – the stickers that successive archivists put on the contact sheets as markers. As a result of the position of the dots, Broomberg and Charnin realized a code and it provided them with a set of instructions of how to frame the photographs in this book.  Each circular image reveals an area beneath that has been obscured from view.

Not being too familiar with digital editions of photography books, People In Trouble Laughing Pushed To The Ground, is fascinating –both in content and form.  In the digital edition, there is an audio introduction about the project and each image is accompanied by an audio clip of its title. The evolution of the archive is discussed and the images are put into a personal and political context by Mervyn Smyth, a text photographer.  In many ways, it seems the viewer may have a more in-depth experience of the project itself as a result of the digital platform. The personal and political anecdotes amplify the human experience of Belfast during the time is an added bonus which cannot often be found in printed materials.

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