17 May 2019 to 26 January 2020
Described by the UN as the “world’s worst” humanitarian crisis, the on-going conflict in Yemen has left an estimated 80% of the country’s men, women and children in desperate need of assistance; but how has this man-made crisis affected the people of Yemen?
At the forefront of a major season of programming at IWM North, Yemen: Inside a Crisis is the UK’s first exhibition to address Yemen’s on-going conflict and humanitarian crisis. Showcasing around 50 objects and photographs, many of which have been exclusively sourced from Yemen for this exhibition.
The war in Yemen was sparked in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings of 2011. Following the forced removal of the country’s president of 33 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, a period of political transition failed to address many of the country’s core problems. As the political process faltered under the country’s new president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, clashes broke out in Yemen’s most northerly governorate, Saada – home of the predominantly Zaydi Shia Houthi movement. When fighting between the Hadi government and the Houthis broke out in 2014, Yemen was already on the brink of collapse. Its political and economic situation made it one of the poorest and most fragile states in the world, but it was the introduction of conflict into a perfect storm of conditions that pushed Yemen over the edge. Having been notably absent from British media for the majority of the war’s duration, the conflict and crisis in Yemen is now prevalent.
Taking this moment as its starting point, Yemen: Inside a Crisis explores how fighting has tipped the fragile nation into an economic tailspin. It also examines Britain’s complex relationship with Yemen – from its control of the city of Aden in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the paradoxical role it currently holds.
Inflation and the inaccessibility of food, water and healthcare are all addressed, particularly focusing on the physical and psychological effects that the conflict and crisis are having on Yemen’s children. Key exhibits include worn Yemeni Rial notes, charity food vouchers, medical equipment used to treat malnutrition and cholera, dog-eared school books and harrowing images captured by Yemeni photographers. Extraordinary personal stories from people in Yemen give insight into the harsh realities faced by them every day, as well as the incredible resilience they have had to display.
Yemen: Inside a Crisis also features a commission of a new artwork by Yemeni street artist Murad Subay. Created especially for IWM, the artist’s latest work, Devoured (2019), metaphorically represents the harsh physical and psychological realities faced daily by the Yemeni people, as well as the regional and international experience of the conflict situation.
As part of Yemen: Inside a Crisis we will take conversations and programmes beyond the museum’s walls in the form of a travelling digital artwork, created by FutureEverything. Our interactive installation on the streets of Manchester uses touch and voice-activated technology to highlight issues addressed in the exhibition. The programme also includes a commission of new work from spoken word artist Amerah Saleh.
Yemen: Inside a Crisis is part of IWM’s Conflict Now strand of programming, which features opinions of individuals who have seen, experienced and worked in areas of conflict. This exhibition has been curated with the support of Lead Advisor Iona Craig, an award-winning journalist who between 2010 and 2015 was based in Sanaa as Yemen correspondent for The Times.
There is no age restriction for Yemen: Inside a Crisis, however, all visitors are advised that the exhibition includes content showing the impact and consequences of war.
Drawing on the exhibition’s themes, the marketing campaign questions the ‘price of war’? In many areas of Yemen, food has been used as a weapon. The indicative costs featured in the campaign represent the unaffordability of food in Yemen. The costs have been calculated by comparing food prices in the UK and Yemen, and Gross National Income (GNI) of the two countries.