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Review: Art From Elsewhere

Art From Elsewhere

14th February -31st May 2015

Water Hall Gallery, Edmund Street, Birmingham

Is an exhibition that brings together 19 artists, a collection of works which is a Hayward Touring Exhibition funded by the Arts Fund. It consists of powerful and political images of different people’s lives and environments from around the world captured by the international artists whom explore themes and international conflict and share their alternative views of the world we live in. The works shown feature different art mediums such as video, a light installation, paintings, photography and the written word. The topics covered are situations that we view on the news or read in the national papers, seeing the images makes you stop, think, store and process the information, or cause you to become engaged.

The three works that struck me, firstly Aleksandra Mir felt pens on fabrino paper where the artist created World Map of Social Networks, (2009). The 2D image is of a large world map in the shape of a sphere, it charts the various social networks; the artist uses felt pens until they faded and dried up. The textures, different colours and tones are striking and the image captures your gaze as you step into the Waterhall Art Gallery.

The second are emotive photographs by South African born artist and photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa, whose photography is recognised for raising awareness of issues in post apartheid South African society. The two colour photographs are from his Untitled collection (Sugar Cane Series #16) which depicts a South African male worker stood against a wall of dried sugar cane stalks and Untitled (Sugar Cane Series #8) where it shows another male labourer in front of a landscape that is muddy, sparse and has the remnants of a farmed harvest. Mthethwa uses the images to show the observer just how harsh the environment is that the men have to work in. Also how hard and physical it is cultivating the land for the people in that part of the world when here in the west farmers have a range of different machinery for that purpose.

Thirdly photographs by Shirin Aliabadi (b1973 Tehran, Iran) ‘Girls in Cars’, from Freedom is Boring Censorship is Fun Scenes (2005) 4 c- print photographs. The innocent images of girls and women going out to meet at private parties, wearing make up with their bleached hair are a normal everyday occurrence for western women of the same age. But in Iran and the Middle East it is seen as rebellion. The images I observed make me truly appreciate just how we in the west take so much of everyday life; situations and objects for granted also the freedom and choice we have to a certain extent compared to others who inhabit other countries and continents. Finally a video by Emily Jacir (b1970 Bethlehem) ‘Crossing Surda’ a film that expresses the fear, anxiety and risk she exposed herself to as she crossed the borders between Palestine and Israel, her camera was destroyed by the Israeli border guards and she was held at gun point for three hours. This is something I could not imagine and I know the fear I would feel being exposed to such an aggressive and a volatile environment.

Overall it is a stimulating and articulate exhibition expressing a whole range of emotions across different continents and various situations that leave you empowered and in a state of discontentment. The observer realises that for some countries there has been little or no change for some of its citizens that go about their everyday life, whom endure harsh realities that I stated earlier we only ever have witnessed or are exposed to via the news media. Take a visit and appreciate these mind provoking and creative works.

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