At either end of the Duveen Galleries you can see a sculpture made in response to events during the Cold War. Of particular significance was the civil war in Vietnam (1954-75), the most famous and most bloody of several ‘proxy wars’ fought between western powers and Communist regimes. Each artist addressed that situation in very different ways.
Michael Sandle has said that this work, A Twentieth Century Memorial, was prompted by his witnessing the American National Guard ‘putting down – very harshly – a student riot at Berkeley UCLA campus against the escalation of the war in Vietnam. The reason I changed the title from the original “A Mickey-Mouse Machine-Gun Monument for Amerika” to its present more inclusive title was that whilst working on the sculpture I discovered that this completely unnecessary war was started by the British under Clement Attlee’s [Labour] government (1945-51).’ Sandle sees in Britain’s attempt to oust the Communist Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh after the Second World War parallels with the invasion of Iraq in 2003…