Arthur Laidlaw

United Kingdom
1990
Statement

Arthur Laidlaw’s work emphasises the hubris of ‘Western’ viewers looking onto canonised landscapes. The experience of drawing and photographing ancient architecture in the Middle East, months before the Arab Spring, has profoundly shaped the way he sees the world. Laidlaw’s exhibition Razed: Syrian Ruins depicted Syria’s built environments, and the disparity in international responses to their destruction: from widespread condemnation of the demolition of classical ruins, to resignation in the face of regime bombardment of inhabited ancient cities. The resilient inhabitants of Ladakh, Nubra, and Spiti, in the Himalayas, are the focus of Laidlaw’s recent work, and their future is no more stable Syria’s eight years ago. Each place is caught in its own way – between the aggressions of India and Pakistan, the desperate plea for peace by the Kashmiri people, and the Chinese denial of Tibetan statehood. Laidlaw’s work tries to make sense of these conflicting forces, acknowledging the near-miraculous ability for each community to continue as normal, as though nothing threatens their way of life.

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