By Sheila McGregor
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Age of Terror: Art since 9/11

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Issue 434

This exhibition of artists’ responses to conflict since the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001 ranges from sculpture to video installations.

It includes well known pieces such as Ai Weiwei’s marble surveillance camera on a plinth, Ivan Navarro’s “inverted columns” effect created with mirrors, as well as the vase Grayson Perry was working on as the terror attacks happened, which he proceeded to embellish with possible figures and comments possibly made by those caught up in the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

The exhibition is organised around four themes: 9/11 (the event), State Control, Weapons and Home.

The installation by Hans-Peter Feldman in the opening corridor, of walls covered in front pages taken from a variety of, predominantly, US and Western European newspapers, is a reminder of the Western centric view of the events.

Several accurately predicted that the attack on the twin towers would be taken as a declaration of war. George W Bush rapidly obliged by declaring a “war on terror”.

Some of the most thought provoking installations are videos. Fabian Knecht renders visible other “invisible” victims of “terror”.

He is filmed wearing a suit covered with dust from a suicide bomb which claimed 45 victims in Iraq. His face covered in dust and grime, Knecht walks alone on a sunny day in New York and, seemingly invisible, is approached by no one.

Shona Illingworth worked with John Tulloch, who was sat next to one of the London tube bombers on 7 June 2005. Using sound and images, Illingworth recreates Tulloch’s experience of colour and loss of spatial identity because his ear drums were blown out by the blast. At the same time Illingworth delivers Tulloch’s own message that he opposed the extension of detention his photo was used to justify.

A “Redaction” painting by Jennifer Holzer showing how the abuse of Afghan prisoners was “redacted” hangs opposite two images juxtaposed by Alfredo Jaar: Obama viewing the killing of Osama Bin Laden in a room in the White House alongside a blank white screen of the assassination the world was not allowed to see.

The exit, to the sound of hammer blows, is via Homesick by Hrair Sarkissian. This piece involves two screens, one showing a Syrian man swinging a hammer, the second showing the destruction of a model of the flat in Damascus his parents insisted on staying in.

Take the opportunity to go and see this exhibition before it closes at the end of May. There is much to experience and to think about.

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