I am not a wuss, but I must admit I am squeamish when it comes to harm being done gratuitiously on a genocide level. I don't want to look at Auschwitz imagery, my heart physically hurts when it beats faster as I think about the powerfull enjoying their wealth and pressing buttons that make millions suffer on a long term basis, my frustration comes afloat through tears thinking about the desperation of the people that have nothing to be blamed for and are suffering the consequences of selfish and testosterone power-hungry men. Yes, men. Tell me, what is the ratio of women to men in the army? And I mean, in high positions of the army, not soldiers. This is a major flaw of our world. Gender inequality is one of the main drivers of constant international conflicts. I don't mean having women as presidents or prime ministers, this has been done and thankfully it is happening: out of 196 countries in the world, 22 have women in power: this is 11.2%. Not bad... we need at least another 4 fold to be in the right balance. However, this is not what I am talking about. Eventhough tyrant or dictator women exist, such as Biljana Plavsi (Yoguslavia) and Indira Gandhi (India), a politicians' orders for cruel operations are always carried out by male generals, male field marshals and lieutenants alike (I am currently researching on military hierarchy and statistics, hence will fine-tune this with evidence later). These are environments that are led by a constant armwrestle for who wins the most medals as they protect nationalism as an institution of hate for others and closure, rather than a welcoming nation.
After refusing in many occasions of my life (including professinal ones) to enter the grounds of the Imperial War Museum, art made me do it. The Godess lured me into one of the most unconfortable experiences of my life. It was very enlighting though. I went to this place to see Peter Kennard doing what I want to be doing (in ways). He has an anti-war exhibition, right inside a Museum that celebrates war.
He is an incredibly skilled man, his painting technique is - to me - as fine as the great masters (Rembrant, Gericault, Da Vinci). However, this is much more than just painting. There is a message, a clever adaptation of realities in a tumultuous and impactuous strike: these medals, these triumphs are synonyms of death. 'The generals might as well carry the dead bodies on their medals'. This might be something you might have thought they do, but to someone like me - who didn't know that the medals represent wars won and other feats alike - this is an unforgettable literal image. It made my disgust grow stronger. As I progressed into the exhibition, Kennard's work revealed to be an activist on many other areas, such as the atomic bomb, the G8, stock market and capitalism. He is doing this since the late 60's (1968) and showed to be a very prolific and current artist. This is something he embraced through strong imagery made in the form of collages. We currently live in a visually saturated world, and some of this images, we thought of them. But he is the one who materialized such thoughts.
'What is going to be left of the world if we keep destroying it? Money.... yey!!!! We will then be able to get the best money can buy! Oh, wait, the world is destroyed, there's nothing left that we can buy.... let's try to eat coins.' And who hasn't thought about how America feels like they should be laureates for protecting the world from mass destruction weapons? Or about the double meaning of the word facade....
These are all images that are cleverly put together, they are blunt, easy to understand, efficient and real. Some had press coverage, being published in some newspapers and magazines of their time. However the majority were made to accompany demonstrations and protests. This is the real deal.
The most successfull pieces of the exhibition, for me, were the 'Newspaper' series. Those hands, darkened from money's resulting putrefaction, ripping the stockmarket's giberish, so well placed, so well torn, it really only felt like he was done with it all. It felt like frustration, it felt like nightmarish anger, skillfully painted and expertly framed. I feel the same way, so it was at this point that my emotions started to double in intensity. In the 'Boardroom', I then started to feel overwhelmed by all the statistics (I must say a very handy part of it all research wise), but when you start thinking and imagining what do does numbers stand for, it messes with your head.
Last but not any less impressive were the muted pictures. Kennard's black expertise paid off again, and in a strained black silence, one could hear the surpressed groan of those suffering.
I felt and learnt a great deal in this exhibition, facts like Tatcher distributed a leaflet entitled 'Protect and survive' in case of a nuclear attack. My thoughts about war always go in one loop: if she was foreseing a nuclear attack, why didn't she do anything to stop it from happening, instead of preparing a nation for ''''inevitable'''' death? Stopping people from dying was clearly not her proprity. This is all that goes in my mind when thinking about the powerfull when they decide to attack: if there are going to be people killed, why advance? Why do people (the common people) vote for people who don't mind killing their own country's fellowmen? Why do people join the army of offensive countries? I think that the concept of bravery is highly distorted - generals are not brave: I say that brave is he who in a position of power renounces to agression and violence. We all had faith in Obama one day.... and in my yet-not-thoroughly-informed-opinion he tried, but there is more to power these days than one man only. But that is the bravery I mean: one man, in power, opposing all the other men who have more power.