Katabasis: A journey into the Underworld.
For the past ten years Christopher Barr has been photographing the world of a notorious violent Irish Traveller family and their associates at Irish horse fairs. The work is a product of, and a commentary on, the environment within which the work was produced. As well as exploring the interrelationship between man and animal that is an inextricable aspect of such events, this body of work has a much deeper resonance. More specifically it is an exploration into the world of gangsterism within the traveling community, and its sublime everydayness. The body of work importantly also explores the concepts of identity and alienation. Barr’s photographs echo the faced paced modes of speech used by the family and are an allegory for the family in which he has been welcomed. Barr’s acceptance into the world of Irish gangsetrism has afforded him a unique view of the inner workings of life in which at first glance may seem ordinary, even uneventful but on investigation has a darkness that holds true to the subject. Barr has questioned how his practice could usefully contribute to narratives within this context. The work looks at how different narrative possibilities could be incorporated within one piece of work and how the work within the gallery could be used to create a destabilizing experience for the viewer The work can also be read as a metaphor for an identity being gradually eroded by the modernisation of a nation.