Horse Identification.



For the past five years Christopher Barr has been photographing the world of Irish horse fairs. As well as exploring the interrelationship between man and animal that is an inextricable aspect of such events, this body of work has a deeper resonance. More specifically, it is an exploration of the system used by the wider equine community to identify horses through recording their markings and features. The system was inspired by the processes developed by Bertillon for the identification of people. This classificatory system operates in parallel with a separate market system
of horse identification that is used exclusively by the Traveller Community. Barr’s photographs echo the fast-paced modes of speech used by the Traveller Community. The argot used when engaged in discussing horses during fairs has directly influenced the aesthetic and narrative flow of the series. As well as emphasising the role of the horse within the life of the Traveller Community, a vital link between past and present, this body of work also explores the concepts of identity
and alienation. Barr’s horses are an allegory for the Traveller Community in which he moved, a metaphor for an identity being gradually eroded by the modernisation of a nation.