'It would be a totally different experience'

'It would be a totally different experience'

John Tulloch was sitting on board a tube train at Edgware Road Tube station on 7 July 2005 when an explosion tore through the carriage.

An image of him, bloodied and injured, on the street outside of the station became one of the iconic photographs of the 2005 London bombings. The Sun newspaper would later use one of the images taken of him that day on its front page with the headline “Tell Tony He’s Right”, accompanying an article backing legislation proposed by the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair that would allow terror suspects to be detained for 90 days without charge.

John, an academic with expertise in media and risk sociology, was against the legislation.

 ‘But there right next to my mouth, “Tell Tony He’s Right”. So that was the complete signifier of my control by the media and I was trying to break out of that,’ he said.

John wrote a book about his experience and participated in media interviews. In 2007 he met artist Shona Illingworth, whose work has explored issues of memory and trauma. They kept in touch and two years later, Shona suggested they collaborate to create a piece exploring John’s experience – but also the impact such events have on society at large.

‘And then I think what’s also very important, for me, about the way that I work with people is that I develop or we develop a piece of work over a long period of time. So dialogue that has the space and time to evolve and deepen over a long period of time is very important to me,’ said Shona.

John added: ‘I actually never had any difficult actually going back and relooking and in this case I knew from seeing this earlier film of Shona’s it would be a totally different experience, I would learn new things from it as well as say things.’

The film 216 Westbound is the result of their collaboration and is on display at IWM London as part of Age of Terror: Art since 9/11, until May 28. 

In the film, John talks about his personal experience of being caught up in the attack as well as the effect it has on his life – from physical injury to living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But as well as exploring how major events can affect an individual, the film also looks at the impact it has on communities, media and society. 

Shona said she wanted the work to open a dialogue between different area of expertise, lived experiences and the public.

‘Very often an event like this will happen, there will be a lot of news and media response and then we move onto the next event. So I think I was particularly interested in the kind of long term impact of such an event. Not just on the individual but also on the invisible architecture of control and state power,’ she said.

Clips from 216 Westbound 2014, Shona Illingworth. Courtesy of the artist. Comissioned by Animate Projects

Age of Terror: Art since 9/11

View of gallery showing marble surveillance stand and figures
IWM London, Age of Terror Exhibition
Exhibitions & Installations

Age of Terror: Art since 9/11

IWM London
26 October 2017 to 28 May 2018

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