Finalist 2018: Stephen Dock
Children with tired faces, bare walls with straggling remnants of barbed wire, unfounded, aggression in the eyes of men. This is what Northern Ireland looks like today, as captured it in the “Architecture of Violence” series by French photographer Stephen Dock. The times of armed conflict are over, yet the country’s soul can find no peace.
“At first, my goal was to give visual expression to the traces left behind by a war. When I travelled to Northern Ireland in 2012, the weight of the past was immediately tangible. Despite the 20-year peace process that began in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, the violence that hangs over Northern Ireland is like a leaden cloud, reflected in the appearance and attitudes of the people moving around on the street. They often speak about those troubled times, about everything that happened to them in the past. I want to show that peace in Northern Ireland is a daily struggle, which is far from over. I spent a lot of time on the streets, speaking with people and collecting information. I tried to decipher the writing and the markings on the wall, and I visited the public archives.
“I want to show that peace in Northern Ireland is a daily struggle, which is far from over.”
A large part of my photographic work is based on research. In my project, details all of a sudden become very important; that’s what makes it so difficult and complex. The biggest challenge for me was to harmonise the work between myself, the subject matter, my photography and the final outcome. I had to pay attention to consistency, relevance and balance. That’s why I took six years to find a legitimate format for this project, a format that would do justice to what I had seen.”
Dock was born in Mulhouse, France in 1988. After graduating he went to a photography school for a year, but left after common agreement to make his own way as a photographer. He was soon working as a photojournalist for Le Figaro Magazine, M Le magazine du Monde, Libération and Newsweek (Japan). He currently lives in Paris and is working on his first photo book.
Portrait: © Cedric Viollet