The Peace Project

Percy Street, London
12th – 18th October 2012

Reviewed by Tracey Dunn

'End the corporate war in Afghanistan. Honour our troops. Bring them home'

Peace activists and contemporary artists took part in this powerful art exhibition in London's West End.

The main focus in the room was a giant box called The Westminster Cabinet built by peace campaigner Maria Gallastegui in response to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was positioned outside Parliament for about 7 years and used as a kitchen area, place to rest and to store placards. Maria gave the Peace Plinth its name because decisions to go to war are made by the Cabinet at Whitehall instead of 'democratically' in Parliament.

Kennardphillips’ Photo op 2005 showed their famous image of Tony Blair with his mobile phone photographing his handiwork of a huge bomb explosion and his inane grin as he stands in front as if taking snaps of his newborn child. Peter Kennard has in the past produced work for CND including the reinterpretation of The Hay Wain by John Constable but with added trident missiles.

Kennardphillips’ Study for a Head 2012 is for me the standout piece. It takes up almost a whole wall and is different reworkings of Cameron's head printed directly on top of the Financial Times stock market newsprint. The first image shows him in all his smug glory but the remaining images show the outline of his head and layers of ripped pages with inserts revealing the damage he is doing. We see the city of London's corrupt financial towers; tinned up houses, the NHS logo, riot cops, luxury goods, burning vehicles, oppressed black people and scenes of poverty.

Schoony’s The Old Lie (triptych) 2011 is made of spray painted white fibreglass and red spray paint that looks like blood with a child soldier in relief holding a grenade. The stenciled words 'DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI' across the triptych refer to the Wilfred Owen poem about the reality of war and it's propagators of lies. Don't say to children 'It is a noble thing to die for one's country'. That is the 'old lie' in the title of the work.

The work was made by Schoony using his seven year old nephew and he raises the issue of how children in other countries just a few years older are made to fight and how horrifying this is.

There are plenty more works on show including Alison Jackson's photographs made using lookalikes of political figures usually in compromising positions like Blair being a foot stall for Bush as he mounts his war horse.

As the world hurtles speedily towards a possible World War 3 it has never been more urgent to show the illegality and evils of warfare and this week long show certainly did that.

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