The Incommensurable Banner

“The degree of conscience […] is the first step to get a distance, to not be involved, to ask why, where, who?”.


Warning: The images presented in this exhibition were graphic in their representation of violence and war. They may be considered unsuitable for children, and may be disturbing to viewers of any age.

For the 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial, Fabrica presented the world premiere of The Incommensurable Banner, a new work by Thomas Hirschhorn. This exhibition was one of a series across the South East, curated by Julian Stallabrass and entitled Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War.

Thomas Hirschhorn makes work for both street and gallery locations. His work is characterised as hand made, multi-dimensional collages of commonplace materials including packaging, paper, photocopied images and texts. His installations invariably create opportunities in which to explore and debate art in the context of contemporary political issues, and engage with the ethical and philosophical complexities that underlie them.

The Incommensurable Banner, in common with many of his recent works, drew on photographs of contemporary warfare, in particular those that have been circulated online and in magazines.

The Incommensurable Banner stood at four metres high and eighteen metres long. It read as an endless parade of utter destruction, depicting bodies blown apart by modern weapons, weapons designed not just to kill but to obliterate.

Created with reference to a tradition of protest, Hirschhorn’s confrontational and controversial work was intended to fully implicate the viewer in the realities of war waged on our behalf. In doing so he invited visitors to consider, and above all not to avoid, the much larger questions at the heart of humanity.

Warning: The images presented in this exhibition were graphic in their representation of violence and war. They may be considered unsuitable for children, and may be disturbing to viewers of any age.

Total Vistor Numbers: 7, 737


Exhibition Visitor Comments

‘War’ is an abstract word – until you see these images.

We crave this sort of thing in our lives. That’s why we stare at it. We talk about being responsible, ‘us’ and ‘them’ […] Secretly we want the face on the crushed melon skull to be one we recognise.

These actions have come from a place of judgement, pain and lack of rationale – all of which can easily be cultivated again when us, the observer, looks at these images – things like – ‘how could they?’ etc and accusations etc – these are the seeds of the beginning of another war. The question is ‘Where is the war inside you?’


Image Gallery

Photographs by Philip Carr
Warning: The images presented in this exhibition were graphic in their representation of violence and war. They may be considered unsuitable for children, and may be disturbing to viewers of any age.