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Tour The Candahar

A group of people in business casual attire are engaged in conversation in a minimalist room with a wooden floor and some tables and chairs. A cluster of people stands in the background, while several others are talking in smaller groups in the midground and foreground.

Event documentation inside The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery

A man holding a paper stands and speaks in an art gallery. People are seated and standing in the background, observing. A piece of writing including the text

Credit: Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery

A group of five people are posing for a photo at an indoor event. Three men and two women are standing together, dressed in formal and semi-formal attire. The background shows a well-lit room with plain walls and some indistinct artwork.

Credit: Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery

The Candahar is a creative amalgam of at least three Belfast pubs, only one of which (at the time of writing) still exists.

The pub is probably the archetypal pseudo-public space in Belfast. What else is there to do? Where else is there to go?

The Candahar operates in a certain kind of cinematic sense, by being specifically unlike the world upon which it has so clearly and carefully been based.

A gallery exhibit titled

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A black chalkboard sign titled

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A wooden structure resembling a small room or office, with an open dark-colored door revealing an interior with a desk, cabinets, and picture frames on the wall. The structure is located within a larger, well-lit space with checkered flooring.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A dimly lit vintage-style bar with a wooden counter, bar stools, and a few framed pictures on the wall. The ceiling features a decorative wooden grid. Bottles are displayed on shelves behind the bar, and a small table with coasters is in the foreground.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A small, cozy bar with dark wood furnishings, red cushioned seating, and several tables. The ceiling features a wooden grid pattern with hanging lights. The walls are adorned with framed pictures and decorations, creating a welcoming and intimate atmosphere.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

An oval-framed photograph hangs on an embossed, patterned wall. The photo shows a group of people posing together inside a bar. Some are seated while others stand behind the bar, smiling and appearing cheerful.

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A minimalist artwork features a beige background with various horizontal lines in shades of gray. In the middle right, a small white block is marked with the text

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A wall in a cozy room features an array of framed photographs and artwork in various sizes. The pictures are arranged in a gallery-style display above a red cushioned bench. The wall itself is covered with patterned wallpaper, enhancing the warm ambiance.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

An interior wall with framed black-and-white photographs and illustrations. The wall has textured wallpaper with a pattern, and one photo has a reflective surface. The frames are of varying sizes and shapes, arranged closely together under soft lighting.

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A wooden duck figurine and a white baseball cap with a decorative feather hang on the top of a wooden cabinet. Below them, a small deer head mount is affixed to the cabinet. The background features patterned wallpaper.

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A small ceramic cup sits on a wooden counter surrounded by coasters that read

Installation detail, The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A cozy bar interior featuring a wooden counter with taps, glasses, and a framed mirror behind it. The light-colored walls display various framed photographs and artwork. An old-fashioned TV is mounted high on the wall, and soft lighting illuminates the room.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A dimly lit room with framed pictures and documents on the walls. A red bench rests against the wall under the frames. A table in front of the bench has small cards on it. The room leads to another space through an open doorway with curtains.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A cozy pub interior featuring a wooden bar counter with bar stools, framed pictures and certificates on the walls, a shelf with assorted glassware, and a vase of flowers. To the left, there is booth seating with a maroon cushioned bench.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

Two men with long hair and hats stand behind a bar. One is smiling while pouring a beer from a tap into a glass. The other is standing behind him, looking at the camera. The bar counter holds drinks, flowers, coasters, and a glass of water.

Chris and Conor Roddy at The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A busy, cozy bar with patrons dressed in vintage attire. The bar has wooden decor and shelves stocked with bottles. A bartender wearing a cowboy hat, mask, and vest serves drinks. Walls are adorned with framed pictures and memorabilia, creating a vintage atmosphere.

Event documentation inside The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A woman with curly red hair and a yellow jacket is at a bar counter speaking to a bartender wearing a black hat and gray vest. The bar is crowded with people, and a man in the background is pouring a beer. The bar shelves are stocked with bottles and glasses.

Event documentation inside The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

A spacious gallery with high ceilings and wooden parquet flooring. The room contains a large wooden installation resembling a cube and several round tables with black chairs evenly spaced around the room. The walls are plain white.

The Candahar (Regina), 2016
Courtesy of the MacKenzie Art Gallery
Photo: Don Hall

I want to insist, at the risk of trying the reader’s patience, on certain difficulties and instabilities that operate within The Candahar at a conceptual level. If it was simply about having a beer, we could all just go to the pub.

…the same place years later, is the site of a feeling that they spend many hours trying to recover.

A dimly lit, vintage-style bar features a wooden counter and shelves stocked with various liquors. Soft yellow lighting highlights the bottles. There's a small clock above the shelves and some framed photos and artwork on the surrounding walls.

Interior detail, The Candahar (Winnipeg), 2007
Photo: William Eakin

A bartender in a dark sweater and hat pours beer from a bottle into a glass at a bar. Behind him, there are shelves stocked with various liquor bottles and a mirror reflecting the scene. The bar has a rustic-looking interior.

Chris and Conor Roddy at The Candahar (Montreal), 2007
Photo: Guy L’Heureux

A dimly lit, cozy bar features wooden ceilings and a wall adorned with framed pictures. Patrons sit at a corner table near the entrance, while another person sits at the bar. A bartender stands behind the counter under warm light fixtures.

Interior view, The Candahar (Vancouver) , 2010
Photo: Theo Sims

I used to think that I could not leave Belfast. Many people told me I’d stayed too long, that the place was too small, too backward, too out of the way, that I should be somewhere else, but I disagreed because my whole life was so heavily invested in the place.

On the 9th of February 1996, the day the Provisional IRA ended a 17-month ceasefire by bombing the Canary Wharf office complex in London, I sat with Theo Sims in a basement pub next door to the Crown, watching news footage of the bomb on TV while wondering whether to order another drink.