“Terrorvision,” a large group exhibition conceived prior to 9-11, features work crackling with energy, emotion, and more humor than the show’s title might lead one to assume. The predominant expression remains tethered to contemporary politics, with Homeland Security, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the war in Iraq being particularly popular themes, but many artists address the theme of terror from personal, psychological, physical, and historical points of view as well.
The best works are often the most idiosyncratic and darkly humorous, such as Gary Keown’s Ceci n’est pas un coupeur de boîte (This is not a boxcutter), which replicates Magritte’s famous work This Is Not a Pipe; Paul Wirhun’s 21 Skull Salute, a bowl of eggs with skulls on them; and Arnaldo Morales’s weirdly sexual sculptures of sleekly designed “theoretical” weapons. Others deal with historical events and figures—Pinochet’s bloody rule (Iván Navarro), the Cuban missile crisis (Barbara Broughel), nuclear weapon testing during the Cold War (Joy Garnett), Hitler (Kosyo), the fight for Irish independence (Kevin Noble), and the struggle of Native Americans for sovereignty, wryly evoked in an anonymous poster depicting four armed Indians that reads, “Homeland Security, Fighting Terrorism since 1492.”
At times some of the selections (all of which were culled from an international open call) seem at best perplexing, at worst overkill. François Zelif’s Dr. Love, an audio installation featuring a stethoscope, for example, loses relevant meaning in the context of the show, while his Toothache, featuring a ceramic sink with fake blood running into its drain, evokes torture in an action movie sort of way. For the more discerning gore hounds out there, don’t fret, there are more effective works on display.