War of Terror by Edmund Clark explores the experiences that have not been seen during the state control of the ‘Global War on Terror’. Initially the group entered as a collective, which made it very difficult to see, understand and concentrate on the work in such a small gallery space, therefore myself and a small group of others chose to leave the exhibition and walk around the open galleries on the same floor as this exhibition. This lead us to an exhibition: Visions of War Above and Below, this was fascinating to see the perspectives of people on conflict and how they have created these art works as a direct result of these actions. There are all manner of paintings, there may not be a direct correlation between conflict and the work on display however, there are several pieces that are abstract and depict the bombings and raids. Other paintings were very details and it was possible to see how effected the artist was by the situation they were in. the work ranges from the First World War through to today, they all depict different perspectives on war.
After I spent some time in this exhibition, I would have liked to spend longer but due to time restrictions this wasn’t possible, our group went back to the initial exhibition as this had allowed enough time to pass for other students to have looked and moved on, meaning I could spend the time to fully understand what the exhibition was about.
Firstly it was important to understand what I was looking at, as the first time walking into the room there were far too many people and I couldn’t see or read any of the text that added the context to these photographs. The War on Terror refers to the military campaign that started after the September 11th attacks on the United States. It was originally used with focus on countries associated with Islamic terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations. In 2013 the War on Terror was no longer perused, this would allow the focus of the military on specific threats and no longer a tactic. Once I knew this, I could understand and appreciate what I was being shown in the exhibition.
This exhibition highlights several issues within this scheme and makes the viewers think about what goes on behind closed doors and what goes on beyond what is covered by the media, even what isn’t reported or known about. Does this make us better than the terrorists that capture and torture soldiers or does it make us as bad as they are? Throughout the gallery there is a theme that makes you question everything: the security, secrecy, representation and legality. Focusing on the measures taken by states to protect their citizens from the threat of terrorism, and the methods of control.
‘The exhibition brings together several series of Clark’s work including images and documents of CIA operated secret prisons or ‘black sites’, photographs from the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, correspondence from around the world sent to a British detainee in Guantanamo that was transformed by the censorship and intervention of the US military, and the experience of a ‘controlled person’ who was placed in a house in suburban England under the restrictive conditions of a control order – a form of house arrest or detention without trial – introduced in 2005.’
There is good use of space, due to the limited size of the gallery it uses all of the wall space making you eye constantly move, there could be some more space within some of the images as at times they were clustered, making it difficult to concentrate on the images individually. There is also a combination of sound and visual pieces, this was very difficult to concentrate on, which I think was the purpose; to confuse the viewer to make them understand the array of emotions these prisoners felt.