Compiled by Not just collective
Arena Gallery, Liverpool
21st February to 1st March 2014

Reviewed by John Owen

This highly concentrated and timely collection of art works and photographs covered the Sochi Olympic protest and political dissent, the variety and timings of the show in the run up to the Ukraine and Crimea crisis was very prescient and gave added flavour to the works.

12 artists competed for oxygen in the gallery space but the compact and bijou atmosphere rendered the intensity of the exhibition more profound.

With poetry and storytelling performances adding to the Sufi dance nature of the show, it bubbled and tingled in all the right places, an eclectic electric kool and unhindered sumptuous feast for the senses. Hard and soft, dark and light, the interplay of the two extremes came across either through painted, etched or worked canvasses or photographic depiction of the violence inherent in todays globalised economic protests.

For me, the most stunning photos of whole piece were the Turkish protest of 2013 shot in sequence by Liriya Lee, whose timeless capture of the drama of the whole event was brilliantly captured like a frozen filmstrip, the facial expressions of both the protesters' defiance and the police attackers' vengeance produced a twisted look, summing up what protesters face more often now across the globe. Routine arrests of strike and March leaders' unions or community activists facing down strong oppressive state reaction to people's rights to get on the streets and force the changes needed. They are met with paramilitary style policing. This is the face of future demonstration.

The party has moved on so to speak but the collective still puts on shows so be on the lookout for them to see what's going on.

Next show Unit 4b Piccadilly Buildings, Manchester from May 1st to 4th 2014

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