Exhibition Review – Eight ways to change the world



Bargehouse Gallery, London SE1
7-18 September 2005 (and next year)

I found this exhibition depressing, writes Mark Drinkwater.

Eight gallery rooms of depressing photographs documented the appalling conditions of people who live in absolute poverty, depicting the UNs’ millennium goals to reduce poverty by 2015.

Alongside his work, one of the internationally renowned photographers on show, Zed Nelson, had included notes on the ethics of photographing poverty: “How do you decline a cup of tea made with sewage-contaminated water?” he asked. The question puts into perspective any of our concerns about a client’s hygiene when making us a cuppa.

The Water Aid gallery made a mockery of westerners spending a pound on a bottle of water, when there’s a plentiful supply in our taps. How much more good would that pound do if donated to charity?

I didn’t get to the opening night sponsored by Cobra Beer – though I’m not sure how the guests would have felt guzzling free booze surrounded by images of poverty…

Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in Southwark, south London

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