Imperial War Museum North 2014 : RedBlueRedBlue
The Imperial War Museum has been commissioning artists to create responses to conflict since the First World War.
100 years on, Mark Anstee was invited to make RedBlueRedBlue – a 30 day drawing, performed live in the Main Exhibition Space at IWM North in Manchester.
As visitors watched on, the artist drew thousands of army action figures from inside a specially designed ‘drawing pod’.
The large geometric Pod, based on Daniel Libeskind’s architectural floor plan of IWM North was painted to reference the exuberance of the art movement Vorticism, active immediately prior to the outbreak of war. The dazzle effect also alluded to the camouflage techniques employed by the British Admiralty to disguise the exact size and shape of a ship to enemy submarines.
“Red and Blue are two dominant primary colours. For centuries they have been used to denote opposing sides. The British army used to be called ‘Redcoats’. In contemporary military terms, friendly forces are referred to as ‘Blue’. Blue is Us. Red is Them. Colours were switched at the turn of the 20th Century. What could possibly go wrong? RedBlueRedBlue is a proposition, it’s a game with drawn toy soldiers questioning allegiance and identity through colour.” Mark Anstee 2014
RedBlueRedBlue was also live streamed via IWM North’s YouTube channel to a number of external locations – a first for IWM North – allowing the poignant spectacle to be viewed live across the world as well as within the museum itself.
The artwork is part of IWM North’s major Reactions14 series of contemporary artistic responses to conflict, specially commissioned to mark the First World War Centenary.