Violence is ever present in our society. Images of it appear constantly on the television, in newspapers and films. Violence is manifest in many different contexts: war, rebellion and crime. Fear of violent crime pervades daily life and political parties promise to fight it. A recent report issued by the Home Office states that ‘between 198 I and 1995 the number of all violent incidents increased by 88%, but domestic violence increased by 242% … the survey measured much larger increases in violence among people who knew each other than between strangers’. The report indicates the context and prevalence of violence in society and particularly domestic violence. Violence runs in opposition to our notions of civilisation, representing barbarism and anarchism. This show, drawn from the Tate Collection, raises questions about our relationship to violence and demonstrates how various artists have interpreted this theme in their work.
The exhibition takes its name from the Bruce Nauman video installation Violent Incident 1986 and shows how violence has become such a modern and contemporary art. In video works an acted scenario of a staged violent event may be recorded. Elsewhere in the exhibition artists destroy the materials they use for expressive effect. The canvas is slashed, torn, even burnt and shot. Sculptures use a violent process to transform the materials they use. The artwork becomes the trace of a violent act performed by the artist.