A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

"The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own", Michael Rakowitz, Tate Modern

Last weekend I headed down to Tate Modern to catch a couple of their current exhibitions. The first exhibition I went to was “The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own” by Michael Rakowitz and very entertaining it was too.

The opening text remarked upon how he was “interested in exploring how powerful contemporary mythologies derived from popular culture have informed the collective unconscious”.

The exhibition largely consists of a series of drawings which cover recent Iraqi history whilst also containing references to Star Wars. Apparently Saddam and his sons were big fans (really!). As well as the cartoon style drawings, we get to see examples of the helmets worn by the Iraqi Fedayeen which do bear a passing resemblance to the helmet sported by Darth Vader (apparently US troops commented on how surreal this was…)

The artist also recreates the ‘Hands Of Victory’ monument of Baghdad, this time using lightsabres and Darth Vader helmets (as opposed to the slightly-less-fun alternatives of swords and helmets of dead Iranian soldiers used in Baghdad). A TV in the corner of the room plays footage of Iraqi military parades to the Imperial March music from Star Wars. In the final room we are invited to look through a telescope, at the end of which is an image of the moon which appears to feature Saddam’s face within the terrain (as it was claimed happened after his death in 2003).

In a parallel theme, the exhibition also featured some drawings on the World Wrestling Federation (and the character Sgt. Slaughter in particular) and how its storylines during the 1990s made reference to and reflected the ongoing political situation between American and Iraq.

Quite an enjoyable, revealing and funny exhibition.

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