29 November 2017
In the shadow of the Towers: How art spoke to extremist acts
Age of Terror
Imperial War Museum, London
Where were you on 9/11? I’d popped into a Turkish minimarket in north London where I found the shopkeeper transfixed by the screen on the counter, watching endless replays of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. The news channels were playing and replaying the footage, as if to convince themselves it had really happened.
The following day the German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann asked friends around the world to buy the local papers for him. Copies of their front pages line the entrance to the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM London) exhibition “Age of Terror” (until 28 May), splashed with apocalyptic headlines such as “Doomsday America” (The Independent’s European edition) and “War on the World” (Daily Mirror). Only the financial press seemed to keep a sense of proportion, with The Wall Street Journal offering this subhead: “To wage war, allies must first find the enemy”.
Within a few days, President George W. Bush had declared “War on Terror”, and fire and brimstone were raining down on Afghanistan with the aid of new depersonalised weapons technology: the first unmanned drone attack from a Predator aircraft coincided with the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October. Sixteen years later, the War on Terror is still with us; as fast as one enemy is found, another takes his place. The Twin Towers have cast a very long shadow, which this sobering show examines through the work of 40 international artists.
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