Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES Images of War

Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES Images of War

Article excerpt

Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War at the Imperial War Museum North (until 23 February) is alone worth a trip to Manchester. The exhibition shows how artists living in the age of mass media have explored conflict in the age of mass destruction. The most successful works are not those that 'make a statement' but those which address the viewer, usually by embarrassing their indifference and inspiring empathy. Taysir Batniji's 'Gaza Homes' is a set of mock estate agents' particulars for bomb-damaged houses. Captions about 'well appointed' rooms, 'airy living space' and 'beach access' are a joke in bad taste. Yet Batniji's satire is so much more effective than 'Photo Op' by kennardphillips: a clunking piece showing a grinning Tony Blair taking a 'selfie' in front of an explosion.

Batniji, though, isn't the highlight of Catalyst. …

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