Saatchi Gallery, London
The sorry state of the nation is spelt out as images of robotic stormtroopers at the George Floyd protests stand next to those taken during the turbulent 60s
On 30 May 2020, photographer Philip Montgomery captured a police charge during protests in Minneapolis against the killing of George Floyd. The cops look like giant metal insects, every human part of them hidden. You can’t see faces through the glinting visors, or flesh under their robotic armour as they approach with guns blazing through a pale mist of teargas smoke.
Blown up to the size of a painting, Montgomery’s spooky monochrome news photo looks like a premonition of the future in the Saatchi Gallery’s engrossing, unsettling exhibition America in Crisis. These sci-fi American stormtroopers mirror the warnings, a year on from the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, that the world’s most powerful democracy is heading for a second civil war. Yet America in Crisis is not only about the future. It’s about how the present may be understood by the past.