Gritty Black and White Photos Taken During the Northern Ireland Conflict
Danish photographer Krass Clement traveled from Scandinavia to capture the Northern Ireland conflict during the darkest time in the country’s history.
Clement has now published a book of 114 previously unseen images entitled Belfast, after Northern Ireland’s capital city.
The black and white images, taken in 1991, capture soldiers crouching behind walls with assault rifles among rubble-strewn streets. Despite the danger, and the bad weather, daily life continued and Clement captured weddings, children, and retail outlets.
Clement drove from Denmark to Ireland in a Peugeot Cabriolet convertible, driving across swathes of northern Europe before the emerald isle via a ferry crossing.
Arriving on the drab, grey, rain-soaked island in a convertible car made for sunshine was an “anachronism,” explains Clement.
“Belfast was much heavier and gloomier and seemed — in contradiction to the rest of Ireland — tough, and didn’t look like anything I had seen before,” Clement tells Huck Mag.
“Northern Ireland was different in general to the rest of Ireland. It seemed rougher and less smiley,” he adds.
The Northern Ireland conflict, known as the Troubles, spanned over three decades and was a sectarian war waged between Irish republicans who wanted a united Ireland, and unionists who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. While the republicans were generally catholic and the unionists protestant, it was less a religious war and more about the status of Northern Ireland.
Clement says that one day while exploring the Falls Road area of Belfast, traditionally associated with republicanism, he walked past a group of teenage boys, one of whom was wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the letters PIRA (Provisional Irish Republican Army).
“What a nice rainy place you have,” Clements commented to them before taking a few photographs of them.
The PIRA was a paramilitary group that fought against British armed forces intending to gain independence from the United Kingdom. It was designated a terrorist group by the U.K. and an unlawful organization by the government of Ireland.
“The conflict was central to my impression of the city,” Clement says. “Everywhere you had this feeling of an imaginary enemy.”
“But I was not drawn to the conflict itself, but how it manifested in daily life. People had adapted to the conflict as an irrefutable condition of life. It gave the place an absurd character.”
The book is published by RRB Photobooks and is available here. More of Clement’s work can be seen on his website.
Image credits: All photos by Krass Clement.