On the 23rd October 2002 during a performance of a new Russian romantic
musical, Nord Ost, in a Moscow theatre, members of the cast were going
through their paces singing and dancing, dressed in military uniform.
Another man appeared from the wings, also in military costume, and fired
a weapon into the air. The audience at first believed this to be part of the
performance. However, it didn’t take long for them to realize that this was
not art but real life, and the beginning of what turned out to be a 57-hour
ordeal from which many of them would never emerge alive. They were no
longer an audience, but hostages. The brutality of the Chechen war for
independence had been brought to the heart of Moscow.
Whilst these paintings depict a specific event related to a specific conflict
a long way from London, the imagery alludes to the bubble of immunity
which most of us occupy in our daily lives as we watch the world outside,
literally screened off by our televisions, and how this bubble can now be
so easily burst in the most brutal way by people and events that we feel
have nothing to do with us. The reality is of course, as we have learned
recently to our cost in London, it has everything to do with us.