Now in its centenary year, the Imperial War Museum was originally conceived to document the military and civil effort of the First World War. But just as modes of conflict have radically changed across the decades, so too has the institution's remit, with its latest major exhibition tackling one of the most important issues of our time – terrorism.
Few events have shaped the public perception of warfare as much as 9/11. Beyond the geopolitical shockwaves it sent across the world, many of which are still very much felt today, its impact was immediate and visceral. Overnight, language changed, security tightened and paranoia set in.
In the 16 years since, the symbolism and significance of the attacks continue to be extensively explored. In the largest exhibition of its kind in the UK, Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 considers the breadth of response from artists across the world, offering a unique visual storytelling of this complex subject.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The exhibition is broken down into four key areas: the direct reaction to the attacks, state surveillance and security, our relationship with firearms, bombs and drones, and the destruction caused by conflict. Each topic is represented with a diverse range of media, spanning film, sculpture, painting, installations, photography and prints, from names including Grayson Perry, Gerhard Richter, Jenny Holzer and Jake & Dinos Chapman.
It marks the first time that Ivan Navarro's 2011 work Twin Towers has been exhibited in the country. Known for his socio-politically charged sculptures, here the Chilean artist has represented the footprint of the former skyscrapers with fluorescent lights that give the illusion of neverending depth. Ai Weiwei, meanwhile, renders a surveillance camera in marble, an exploration of the scrutiny from the state that the Chinese activist has experienced first-hand.
Further highlights include a site-specific installation by James Bridle, which sees the outline of a drone marked on the floor of the atrium – a modern juxtaposition to the museum's main collection highlighting the conflicts of the past.
Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 is at the IWM London until 28 May 2018; iwm.org.uk
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.