A new exhibition opens this week in Trafalgar Square. For one week only the Journey installation will be wowing visitors to the square. But there’s good wow and bad wow, and this is definitely in the latter category.
For the exhibition is portraying the misery and reality that is modern sex trafficking.
The expo unfolds through a series of seven containers designed by some big artistic names including Anish Kapoor, each one representing different stages of a woman’s journey from the moment she is ensnared to her release into a hopeful future. As with a lot of the nastier stuff going on around us, the organisers have recognised the superior power of art to tackle the subject. As one of the designers says:
'This is the dark side of life - human trafficking, rape, torture. It's so awful, you can't show that in photographs. No one wants their portrait taken.’
The problem is not new – for a number of years now tales of slavery and torture in so-called modern London have been making gruelling headlines. But it is one that seems reluctant to go away. Whereas previously just 1 in 4 sex workers in London were non-British, now it is more likely to be 3 in 4. Many of the victims are from Eastern Europe, but the Helen Bamber Foundation, who are behind the exhibition, help runaways and refugees from Sudan and China and all over the place.
What can we say? There is nothing not to support about this work. No room even for the most satirical Londonist to make a flippant quip. It is nothing short of a disgrace that such goings-on are going on in our capital city.
But we do get all excited about two aspects of this installation: it is great to see Trafalgar Square in use as much as it is – it is rapidly becoming a sort of free for all open exhibition space; and we just love art in containers – it does it for us.
Image courtesy of Nic0’s flickr stream.