Review: Compelling exhibition looks to disturbing themes

Unreliable Evidence at Warwick Arts CentreUnreliable Evidence at Warwick Arts Centre
Unreliable Evidence at Warwick Arts Centre
Unreliable Evidence, Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, until December. 6

It would normally require a trip to London’s National Gallery to see Edouard Manet’s famous masterpiece painting, The Execution of Maximillian.

But here it is at the Mead, the focal point of a compelling exhibition that includes the work of seven internationally recognised video artists who have drawn on similarly disturbing themes.

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Profound subject matter doesn’t necessarily make for profound art.

But in Omer Fast’s interviews with ex-combatants, the chaos of war is starkly but subtly revealed.

While in Hito Steyerl’s loving portrayal of her reckless friend, Andrea, the tragedy of a life lost in remote Kurdistan is told in touching detail.

Zarina Bhimji’s sophisticated photograph of a set of guns casually stacked against a wall in Uganda, is a chilling reminder that war is an all-pervading evil from which there is no escape even for non-combatants.

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It’s a message that’s hammered home at the end of the exhibition where Santiago Sierra’s chilling life-size photo of a veteran facing the wall haunts the exit in what seems like a ‘lest we forget’ gesture of despair.

By Peter McCarthy

Rating 8/10