Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Nature of the Beast

The Nature of the Beast is the title of Goshka Macuga's exhibition for the Bloomberg Commission at the Whitechapel Gallery. April 2009 - April 2010.
Macuga began her research for this exhibition in the Gallery's archives. Here she found details of the showing of Picasso's Guernica at the Gallery in 1939 and the political debate that was held around it. Ever the political creature Macuga was fired into action and the exhibition revolves around the tapestry version that usually hangs outside the United Nations Security Council chamber. As this area is currently closed for refurbishment the gallery has been able to borrow the tapestry for the duration of the exhibition.
Universally adopted as an anti-war symbol the tapestry is once again used as a backdrop for debate as the centrally placed 'round table' is available for the public to hold meetings and debates.
The blue curtain behind the tapestry references the blue curtain that was used to cover the tapestry when US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, gave his now infamous press conference effectively calling for war against Iraq. Ostensibly the plain blue was to allow better television coverage but it was widely seen as an admission that he could not be seen to be calling for war in front of such a symbolic icon of the horrors of war. Colin Powell is represented in a bronze statue that pays homage to the Cubist style of many of Picasso's sculptures.
Across the room from Colin Powell a series of films are shown, rotating on a monthly basis, each of which has some form of anti-war message. This also has a connection with Guernica; when the original painting was shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris it was accompanied by a series of anti-war films.
This exhibition is a highly charged piece of politically driven art that questions man's inability to learn from past mistakes.

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