War Machines

Wim Melis

What are armaments without war? In an intriguing exhibition Wim Melis (NL, 1969) asks  what meaning aeroplanes, tanks and missiles still have when they are stripped of their raison d’être.

In War Machines it all passes in review: the unarmed nuclear missiles that are launched periodically just to see if they still work; the weapons that are part of the display of muscle flexing in parades or repose in the hallowed halls of military museums; the obsolete weapons that take on a second life as monuments,  tourist attractions or even as playground equipment. In an ambiguous contribution by Gabriel Jones (US) rockets, or parts thereof, lie inert and overgrown in an imaginary landscape. Is this the afterimage of a long-forgotten war, or are we simply looking at obsolete, abandoned civil materiel?

In the hands of these photographers the machines, symbols of power and destruction, lose their terrifying charge. But by contrasting them with images from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Melis also reminds us of the original purpose of  our arsenals of weapons. What is left is the absurdity of war. 

Venue: CBK Groningen

Photographers:

Robert Hirsch (US)
Gabriel Jones (CA)
Shunkichi Kikuchi (Magnum) (JP)
Simon Norfolk (GB)
Simon Roberts (GB)
Paul Shambroom (US)
P.W. Voigt (DE)
Yosuke Yamahata (Magnum) (JP)