Ai Weiwei and Grayson Perry explore war & terror in new show

Over 40 international artists interpret the consequences of contemporary conflict

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Ai Weiwei
via RCA

Grayson Perry and Ai Weiwei, both vastly different, world-renowned artists, have each explored the age of terror, war and torture we live in. A new exhibition at The Imperial War Museum, titled Age of Terror: Art since 9/11, is bringing them together.

The exhibit, featuring over 40 artists from across the world, will delve into themes of surveillance, state control, conflict, torture, post-war society and protest, as the museum celebrates its centenary year. Focusing on the aftermath of 9/11, the museum details that it was “a turning point in the public perception and understand of contemporary conflict”.

Grayson Perry’s Dolls ay Dungeness, September 11th 2001 will be on display: this piece was created following the terrorist attacks in the U.S that killed 2,996. The ceramic vase features a scene with warplanes encircling a group of dolls. Ai’s Surveillance Camera, from 2010, recreates CCTV as a marble sculpture, illustrating themes of state control and spying. Over the years, Ai has faced off with the Chinese government that detained and censored him as a dissident artist. 

Nathan Coley’s A Place Beyond Belief installation will be shown, which takes its name from a New York subway commuter’s words following 9/11. Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco’s Operation Atropos video will also be exhibited, which shows Fusco and others undergoing extreme physical and psychological interrogation. Her work on torture was inspired by images she saw of prisoners subjected to abuse in Abu Ghraib. Omer Fast’s Five thousand is the Best film, also going on display, looks at a drone operator, and the psychological impact the job has on a person. Works by Mona Hatoum, Jim Ricks, Trevor Paglen, Hans-Peter Feldman, John Keane and Dexter Dalwood will also feature alongside specially commissioned pieces.

This is the second part of the ‘Conflict Now’ series the museum is hosting, which started with a series on Syria, illustrating public distrust for the media documenting the conflict. 

“One of the other reasons to explore these themes through art is that there is no historical perspective yet,” Gill Webber, executive director for programming, told the Guardian. “While we are very well known for our work on the first and second world wars and the cold war, our curators and historians can use an historical perspective and documents. That doesn’t exist at present, so one way of exploring them is through artists’ representations. Artists are also particularly good at exploring the impact of war on people.”

Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 will debut at the Imperial War Museum October 2017

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