December 11, 2023

Hirschhorn: ‘It’s Burning Everywhere’ – 2009, a look back

In a certain centre of arts, on a certain street near a certain famous Dundonan takeaway I wandered from the realm of chips and cheese in to the latest art exhibition of that particular building of contemporary culture. An installation piece, Thomas Hirschhorn’s ‘It’s Burning Everywhere’ covers the three gallery spaces of the DCA from floor to ceiling. Using everyday materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper Hirschhorn has created a three-dimensional collage with medial images from highly contrasting contexts.

The images are pasted onto a cartoonish backdrop of sculptures of fallen forest wood and emotionless mannequins. He has taken the images of fantastical beauty of the fashion industry and combined them with the horrific casualties, losses and deformity caused by war. The leftover corpses of war, once filled with the potential for this unobtainable supernatural beauty conveyed in fashion advertising, are now left to rot in all their all too human mortality. A fantasy world of indifference and apathy portrayed by the models and cool tones of fashion photography starkly contrasts the images of fire and bodies now literally torn to pieces by the brutal and unforgiving consequences of real life.

These ideas are just some that came to mind when viewing what the artist has presented for our interpretation. Unlike some philosophical and surrealist political artists the exhibition is not burdened with cryptic contrasts of seemingly unrelated images. Hirschhorn’s ‘it’s burning everywhere’ is visually satisfying in its easy conveyance of recognised images interweaved with a disturbing atmosphere of real-life horror. Engaging and politically meaningful you are not required to do battle with the dragon of cryptic artistic vision in the cave of this artist’s mind for this exhibition to really reveal something honest and poignant.

Though you should be prepared to see some disturbing images of war there is much more to this exhibition than just shock value. Wandering from the insulated consumerist Dundee world of chips and cheese through this exhibition and out the other side was a surreal experience that invites you to reinterpret how we understand the images we witness everyday.


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