Art / Exhibitions

Sound and Vision

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Review of 'Reds', The People's History Museum, Salford

The People's History Museum, Salford, has collected an array of sound and visual aids to bring alive the history of the British Communist Party. The exhibition includes poster designing and videos for the kids, and audio replicas explaining the inspiration behind the party - why people joined and what it was like living in a Communist household. As well as the British party the exhibition opens to the visitor the world of 'Communist' Russia and its influence back here in Britain.

Response Units

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Review of 'A World at War', Millinery Works Gallery, London

The visitor who will expect an exhibition called 'A World at War' to be full of military images will be disappointed. Frances Newman's art works are at least as much to do with how the war resonates at home. 'Another Bloody Sunday', for example, takes the eye across a breakfast tray with a remnant of toast still on the plate to the newspaper behind it. The image - of the father protecting his son moments before the boy is killed by Israeli gunfire - is immediately familiar. Here it is an invasion, an interruption of the everyday rituals - and it is inescapable.

The Language of Art

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Review of 'Dreams and Conflicts, the Dictatorship of the Viewer', Venice Biennale

The 50th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale is an immense event which runs until the beginning of November. It consists of the work of hundreds of artists in exhibitions spread over 64 national pavilions, themed shows in the Arsenale and Museo Correr, and numerous additional exhibitions and events at venues around the city. Established in 1895, one of the original ambitions of the Biennale was to promote a 'universal language of art'.

Meme Me Up Scotty

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Review of Adbusters

'The commodity is, first of all, an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind. The nature of their needs, whether they arise from the stomach, or the imagination, makes no difference. Nor does it matter here how the thing satisfies man's need, whether directly as a means of subsistence, ie an object of consumption, or indirectly as a means of production.'

All Style and No Substance

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Review of 'Art Deco' exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Art Deco embraced the modern world. The exhibition blurb tells us that Art Deco 'reflects the plurality of the contemporary world, unlike its functionalist sibling Modernism, it responded to the human need for pleasure and escape'. So not unreasonable then to expect fun, excitement, excess and speed. It is billed as something of a blockbuster show, and it costs £8 to get in.

Picture the Suffering and Struggle

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Review of 'Exodus: an exhibition of Sebastiao Salgado's photographs', Barbican Gallery, London

A man sleeps under a dirty blanket beside a vast rippling expanse of water. A woman, perhaps his wife, waits, her arms wrapped around her sari. In the distance a modern city stretches across the horizon. A bird, blurred and flapping, swoops down behind the pair.

The photograph, one of the many striking images in Sebastiao Salgado's new exhibition, depicts poor migrants on Marina Drive, overlooking Bombay, waiting for food handouts. It epitomises one of the major themes in the Brazilian-born photographer's work--the cycle of displacement and migration in the developing world.

Blood Sacrifice

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Review of exhibition 'Aztecs', Royal Academy, London

The Aztecs exhibition will stun and perplex many people who see it. There are displays of magnificent sculptures from pre-Hispanic Mexico. There is a beautiful filmed reconstruction of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, one of the biggest and most magnificent cities in the world before the Spanish conquistadors tore it down to build Mexico City. But there are also written descriptions of how many of the sculptures and buildings were used for gruesome religious rites.

In Defiance

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Review of exhibition 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', Imperial War Museum, London

I am making this statement as a wilful defiance of military authority... I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.' Siegfried Sassoon's rejection of the First World War is one of many moving tributes to soldier poets killed in that conflict in the Imperial War Museum's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' exhibition.

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