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No One Home: Red Cross Exhibition at The Old Truman Brewery

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
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" I've given up on politics. The only thing I can do communicate with people like me who actually care about what happens elsewhere. And art is the only thing that everyone can understand."

Syrian artist Ibrahim Fahkri is an angry man. Angry that his homeland, Syria, is enmeshed in a bloody civil war that started as protest against a dictator and for the possibility of some sort of democracy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, here in Europe, we watch our soaps and showbiz gossip, like hawk watching the wrong things. Fahkri points our direction toward these developments in Syria and hammers home the emptiness and despair ordinary Arabs face now their homes are empty of life through the very British concept of the milk bottles outside of the front door painted on a wall of the sterile gallery space at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. One for each day of the conflict, a symbol of desperation inspired by the milk bottles you find at the door when you comeback from holiday. Even when I look at this, I was seeing as the milk of human kindness that Shakespeare wrote about in Macbeth that is lacking and needs to be delivered. Even so, life of some sort goes on, as the children playing suggest.

The bitter irony being that the photographs accompanied by the installation are testimony to how the homelessness in Syria is a sign of how the power vacuum has led to a vacuum of life. Since everyone has deserted, the Panos shot photographs show the empty shells of buildings shelled to the point of uninhabitable and how power vacuums lead to an emptiness of a society in no uncertain terms.

The stark news photography doesn't show heroism or derring do, nor does it show how things can be: where Christian, Jew and Muslim live together in peace. Fahkri shows this is democide on a huge scale unprecedented in recent history, but the installation never flinches because it can happen here as Scotland clamours for independence. While prophesies are seldom predictions, this exhibition and installation is a warning that it can happen here. Can you imagine seeing your high street being shelled as you struggle to get bread from the only surviving shop in town? It's enough to make you give up on politics.
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When: Monday 16th March 2015 - Sunday 22nd March 2015
Where: 91 Brick Lane, London
Cost: Free
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