Out and About: Age of Terror at IWM

Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme Assistant

The Imperial War Museum, which some fellows will have visited for Museum Project Day/Weekend, has opened a group exhibition of global contemporary art entitled Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11. The exhibition posits that 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’ have changed our perception of conflict, and gathers artists whose work reflects the global response, the changing nature of modern warfare and the ‘state of emergency’ we now live in.

Read some responses to the exhibition:
New York Times
The Guardian

The show includes work by numerous high-profile international artists of the moment, including Ai Weiwei, Mona Hatoum, Alfredo Jaar, Omer Fast, Grayson Perry, Coco Fusco, Julie Mehretu and Hrair Sarkissian.


The exhibition is divided into sections on 9/11, State Control, Weapons and Home – walked through in this order.

9/11 – artworks created immediately after the World Trade Center attacks, or reflections in the years that followed.
State Control – ‘collective anxiety’ about changes in legal and political practices, highlighting ‘their impact on fundamental human rights’.
Weapons – developments in weapon technology, such as drones, and their physical and psychological impact.
Home – including work by contemporary artists from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, looking at the impact of conflict on landscape, architecture and people, as well as returning servicemen and women.


It is interesting to note that, aside from three pieces from the IWM collection, the loans making up the 50 works on display are all from private collections and commercial (representative) galleries. Is the subject matter perhaps considered too ‘fresh’ for museum acquisitions?

One of the three IWM collection works is jointly owned by the IWM and the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne – Omer Fast’s Five Thousand Feet is the Best (2011), purchased with Art Fund support. Co-ownership like this is still a relatively new practice: complicated to organise and maintain, but fantastic as a way to ensure that important artworks can be acquired by museums for the public to experience, and to strengthen relationships between institutions.