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Friday, 15 July 2011

Exhibitions - 1395 Days Without Red - Whitworth Art Gallery

Star rating – 7/10

The siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1996, and how such a thing could occur in a civilised, modern, western city which such a little time before hosted the Torville and Dean triumphing Winter Olympics, is fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. And if only the film makers Sejla Kameric and Anri Sala had not fallen out so irrevocably during the making of this piece, it might have been even more powerful. But they did, so we are left with two films, which are very much like each other, each featuring a woman dodging snipers to the beautiful backdrop of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Maribel Verdu is the actress who brings the horror of that time to life so poignantly, as she waits on street corners with other ordinary citizens of the war torn former Yugoslav city, simply to cross the street without getting a sniper’s bullet in her body. She hums the music that she has heard of the orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s beautiful and haunting Symphony No. 6 Pathetique, as she makes a desperate run for her life. And her plight is interspersed with shots of the actual orchestra rehearsing.

And also well worth catching in this Archangel collection at the Whitworth as part of the Manchester International Festival, is Catherine Yass’s ‘High Wire’. This consists of four giant canvasses with films projected on each showing a daring hire wire walk among condemned Glasgow high rises from different angles. It is fascinating, and a very heart in mouth experience, as you are there with Didier Pasquette as he walks the high wire so high up in the blustery sky.

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