Build the Truce explores fragile peace at the Imperial War Museum London and Manchester

By Ben Miller | 15 August 2012
A photo of a small child standing on rubble-strewn train tracks in an area of conflict
A slum in San Salvador's Soyapango, an area dominated by gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and M18© Piet den Blanken / Panos
Exhibition: Build the Truce, Imperial War Museum London, London, until September 23; IWM North, Manchester, until October 31 2012

After the civil war in El Salvador finished in 1992, while violence escalated, Kirsten Howarth worked with and interviewed some of those involved with the emerging “extreme gang culture”. Abas Eljanabi fled Kuwait in search of refuge abroad during the fragile truce after the Iran-Iraq War. And Jackie MacDonald and Seanna Walsh have both played their parts in the peace process in Northern Ireland – Walsh as a former IRA prisoner who was worked in community development since being freed under the Good Friday Agreement, MacDonald as a mentor to young people, having spent time as a UDA prisoner.

These are some of the voices whose stories are told in Build the Truce, an exhibition taking the peaceful interim the Olympic Games were partly made to provide as a starting point, then exploring the concept of truce through a project which has recorded the insights of those most keenly – and often painfully – aware of its potential to unite or divide.

Figures from the emergency aid effort in Kosovo and recuperative camps in Sierra Leone appear in a series of interviews, projected onto 27-foot high walls in the main exhibition space of the IWM north, creating a 360-degree backdrop.

Touchscreens, family activities and a weekend programme based around the International Day of Peace, on September 21, also take place in an initiative collaborated on by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester.

  • Open 10am-6pm (5pm Manchester). Admission free.

More pictures:

A photo of prisoners standing behind bars looking solemn during conflict in Sierra Leone
Amputees wait to cast their votes in elections in Sierra Leone. The Revolutionary United Front, who fought a war there between 1991 and 2002, had an amputation policy intended to leave people without hands to work, fight or vote against their attackers. Elections held six months after the end of the civil war passed peacefully© Fredrik Naumann / Panos
A photo of soldiers in army camouflage uniforms wearing shields and helmets in a war zone
The British Army patrol Sandy Row, a unionist area in Belfast. Tensions were particularly high during the marching season© David Rose / Panos
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