David Moore Reveals The Last Things At Belfast Exposed Gallery

By Marian Cleary | 20 August 2008
A photograph of a bed

© David Moore

The Last Things at Belfast Exposed Photography from August 22 to October 10 2009

If you walk the streets of London, you might be tempted to think that the Tube tunnels are the only structures beneath your feet.

But this of course is not the case - as Photographer David Moore saw for himself when he was granted special permission to access a Crisis Management facility below the streets of the capital between September 2006 and April 2007

This hidden place will be the first port of call if the State is ever under threat. But not for you and me.

It seems strange to think that when these rooms (which for all intents and purposes would not be out of place in a youth hostel or mid-priced hotel) are occupied, you and I may be sat in fear waiting for the worst. Or worse.

The exhibition, which opens on August 22 at Belfast Exposed, is called The Last Things. The title takes this idea of the state progressing without us beyond some final endgame.

A photograph of some shelves with small files on them

© David Moore

It also develops other themes that Moore first explored in his book, The Commons. The ideas running through his work are about institutions, government and power.

In this case the sealed, regulated and artificial environment, which could sustain its workforce for extended periods of time, is redolent with threat and crisis.

Yet the pictures of ordinary rooms - part military, part civilian - are full of chilling clarity and this labyrinthine world mirrors the very ordinary way in which the maze of international machinations can lead to crisis.

Part of a large secret network operated by the Ministry of Defence, it is astounding that Moore was allowed such access to observe this empty yet ever-ready work space - silently waiting for those who would take the country through the most extreme national emergency.

It is however not so surprising that small areas of some of the images have been digitally altered at the MoD’s request. This was to protect what the MoD considered to be sensitive information. Clearly, this did not include the colour of the carpets or the fact that bedroom walls remain un-plastered.

A photograph of a desk in a TV studio

© David Moore

Perhaps these subtle interventions reflect the relationship we all have with this department of state? It may be there to protect us, but we are clearly outsiders when it comes to the real powers and truths of our governmental institutions.

The Last Things is a University of Hertfordshire Galleries touring exhibition funded by the Arts Council England. The exhibition at Belfast’s Exposed Gallery is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

David Moore teaches photography at Central Saint Martins College in London as well as being a professional photographer whose work has been widely exhibited.

The Last Things has previously been on show at the University of Hertfordshire Galleries and will move on to Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 2009.

An accompanying book of The Last Things, with essays by filmmaker and novelist Chris Petit and exhibition curator Angela Weight, is also available.

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