RETORT IN WHITECHAPEL
On the day Colin Powell appeared before the UN in January 2003 to present the case for war against Iraq, the tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica hanging outside the Security Council chamber was draped with a baby blue shroud. The UN media liaison, Abdellatif Kabbaj, explained: “We had a problem with, you know, the horse”.
For the past year the Guernica tapestry has been in London, on loan during renovations at the UN. It is hanging in the old public library, now part of the Whitechapel Gallery, and forms the centrepiece of Goshka Macuga’s installation, “The Nature of the Beast”.
Retort will host an event on the closing day of the installation. On Sunday, April 4th between 2 and 5 o’clock, at the round table in front of the tapestry copy of Guernica (referencing Calder’s Mercury Fountain in the 1937 Spanish Pavilion), there will be a recorded discussion on the topic of terror against civilians as an instrument of modern statecraft and the failed efforts of popular movements to halt it. The conversation – between an invited panel and then opening to all in attendance – will be primed by a brief presentation, in front of the tapestry, of Retort’s case in Afflicted Powers that terror from the air is constitutive of modernity, and T.J. Clark’s argument in Picasso and Truth that Guernica registers a double mourning, for the Spanish republic in its death throes but also for an end to modern humanity’s hopes of a true space of belonging. In the light of this history – from Guernica to Gaza – what are the possibilities of renewal for an anti-war movement? If it was hard in 1937, how might “art against war” be conceived under contemporary conditions of spectacle and the new arsenal of image machines?
The muse of remembrance in the Basque tradition will be invoked in performance by MacGillivray and Gwalia.
Address and info/directions:
The Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 7QX, 020 7334 3922
Posted here by Glenn Rikowski
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