There is hardly a day passing by and we are not hearing the phrase “war on terror” it is all around us in News and media!! Our world has been shaped by the event of September 9/11 and the consequent events that lead to the current crisis in Middle East generally and specifically the war in Syria. In the age of war it is all expected that the art world would be affected by this trend too.
Recently I have visited an exhibition titled “Age of Terror” at the Imperial War Museum. This exhibition contain variety of works by different artist. The exhibition collected war art that have been made since the attack on World Trade centre. Among the work there were very powerful and expressive works like the video documentary by video artist Tony Oursler, in which he has seen first-hand view from his flat in Manhattan and made the video of people jumping from the Twin Tower.
Another artist, Hans Peter Feldmann, collected newspaper headline all around the world the day after the 9/11 he attached and displayed them in a row on two parallel walls. Very simple but powerful and meaningful art work.
Another successful work is a video performance by German artist Fabian Knecht, showing himself in a suit walking in the streets of Manhattan. His hair, face and cloth all covered in dust, a reminder of the survivors of 9/11 all covered in the dust after the collapse of the two towers. The dust he was referring to was from a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2014 that killed almost 50 people and what is attracted me about this work is how he linked the 9/11 attack with the invasion of Iraq and shows how violence and war can only cause chaos and devastation everywhere.
From my point of view those works described above are a powerful and meaningful form of arts which can engage the viewer through the idea, presentation and the message they convey.
There were contributions from British artists like Grayson Perry and Jake and Dinos Chapman but their works was not as great or representative like other works and were weakest works on display. The exhibition was titled “Age of Terror” and works by Grayson Perry and Dinos Chapman didn’t fulfil that name. Perry’s work was nothing to do with the war or 9/11. Originally it was idea of another work which he was doing and he just painted pictures of planes, building and people over the pot the day after the attack on twin towers.
Some might say that art dose not necessary have a message, I do not agree with this, especially with a subject like war and violence, maybe it works with other subjects of art. However, I believe the art about war has a specific messages, either for documenting events or to show horror and devastation that a war might cause. Therefore when an artist show the brutality of war clearly and visibly this will connect with the viewer in a more direct and powerful way.