The humanity

There will be at least one image you take away with you. It will probably be a different one for each person who visits.

But if you don’t, if you are able to walk out of the gallery @ oxo and not, for at least a fleeting moment feel the most crushing relief that you are walking out onto the tourist boardwalk rather than, say, into the sights of a sniper can you please let me know how you do it?

I can’t remember the last time I left an exhibition feeling so utterly, totally drained.

Covering 150ish years of humanity’s desire to kill people because they’re a bit different and a smaller portion of humanity’s desire to look after those victims, Humanity in War presents images from various conflicts around the world. Some of the photos are straightforward shots of women preparing relief packages, some are of the men wounded in battle. Others are more complicated.

And the ones who feel you might get away from because they’re from such distant battles – the Crimea for example – find their echoes in the modern.

There is no progress. History repeats. Only at the end, in the present day, there are now women with guns. The genders united in war.

You can see it got me down a bit.

My image by the way is by James Nachtwey. It’s from Somalia in the 1990s. A starving baby crouches next to a woman’s feet, we can’t see how interested or concerned she is. Perhaps her attention is taken by the armed soldier walking by. I want to know how that story ended but can’t bear to find out. It’s here

It’s all in aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and there’s a book to sell. Buy it and never look at it.

Just knowing it’s there and what it contains should ensure you never sleep soundly again.

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