Lorna Simpson, ‘Then & Now’ 2016
Lorna Simpson, Then & Now 2016 . Lent by the Tate Americas Foundation, purchased using endowment income 2017 . © Lorna Simpson, courtesy Salon 94, New York

Room 10 in Artist and Society

Citizens

Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Dia al-Azzawi, Sabra and Shatila Massacre  1982–3

This work was made in response to the massacre of civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon in September 1982. Those killed were mostly Palestinian. The violence was carried out by a militia associated with a Christian Lebanese right-wing party. The camps were under the guard of the Israeli Defence Force. Al-Azzawi worked on the drawings over several months, creating no other work. In its subject matter and scale, the work is related to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica 1937, a large painting that brought attention to the violence of the Spanish Civil War (1936–9).

Gallery label, August 2019

© Dia al-Azzawi

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The citizen

Richard Hamilton, The citizen  1981–3

The citizen was based on stills from a 1980 news report about the IRA ‘dirty protest’ at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. Paramilitary inmates had initially been given a ‘Special Category’ status. This was revoked, and they were treated as ordinary criminals. In response they decided to wear only prison blankets and to daub their cell walls with excrement. Hamilton wrote that he could not ‘condone the methods’ of the IRA, but was struck by the resemblance to Christian martyrdom. He also felt a connection to the prisoners since they had produced ‘wall paintings’. One panel shows the prisoner and his cell; the other is more abstract, an unconfined space.

Gallery label, January 2019

© The estate of Richard Hamilton

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Civil Tapestry 4

Theaster Gates, Civil Tapestry 4  2011

In May 1963, a group of black school children and students were marching peacefully for equal rights in Birmingham, Alabama. Police used powerful fire hoses to break up the march, injuring many of the young protestors. Gates has arranged strips of decommissioned fire hoses to resemble the composition of a 1960s American abstract painting – a form that pointedly failed to engage with the Civil Rights movement. Gates also questions whether the protestors’ goals have been fulfilled. ‘Some of us are slightly better while others are a great deal better’, he has reflected, ‘but… things are far from equal’.

Gallery label, November 2015

© Theaster Gates

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Then & Now

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Possession Island (Abstraction)

Gordon Bennett, Possession Island (Abstraction)  1991

© Estate of Gordon Bennett

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Flag I

Teresa Margolles, Flag I  2009

The fabric of Flag I contains traces of blood, soil and other substances from the sites of murders around the northern border of Mexico, testifying to the thousands of violent deaths associated with the powerful drug cartels that control smuggling routes to the United States. Another version of this work was shown at the Venice Biennial in 2009, where Margolles represented Mexico with an exhibition titled What Else Could We Talk About? As the government failed to intervene in the drug wars, the blood-stained cloth was hung outside the Mexican pavilion as a memorial for citizens that the nation ignored.

Gallery label, November 2015

© reserved

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Democracies

Artur Zmijewski, Democracies  2009

Aiming to blend into the crowd as much as possible, Zmijewski and his cameramen filmed a series of politically charged gatherings, including demonstrations, military parades and memorial services. Many of the events are extreme right-wing and nationalistic, reflecting what the artist sees as a general cultural shift in Europe. ‘I was less interested in the rightness or justice of the cause’, Zmijewski has said, ‘but more in this inner drive that moves people to debate, to publicly show their own needs, demands, requests, opinions – and to defend them with their own presence’.

Gallery label, November 2015

© Artur Zmijewski; Forsal Gallery Foundation; Galerie Peter Kilchmann

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artworks in Citizens

Art in this room

Sabra and Shatila Massacre
Dia al-Azzawi Sabra and Shatila Massacre 1982–3
The citizen
Richard Hamilton The citizen 1981–3
Civil Tapestry 4
Theaster Gates Civil Tapestry 4 2011
Then & Now
Lorna Simpson Then & Now 2016
Possession Island (Abstraction)
Gordon Bennett Possession Island (Abstraction) 1991
Flag I
Teresa Margolles Flag I 2009
Democracies
Artur Zmijewski Democracies 2009

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