Geographies of War

The North Lodge at UCL, Gower Street. 18-27 March 2013

An exhibition at University College London. Website link here

This exhibition explores how artists with diverse practices and perspectives experienced the invasion and occupation of Iraq and how they responded to it by engaging with questions of space, place, landscape and territory.

Bringing together artists from Iraq and Britain, it shows six works that give material form to the violence, anxiety and ruin of war but which also raise questions about resistance, resilience and dreams of peace. Opening in the week of the tenth anniversary of the invasion, the exhibition presents alternative perspectives on the conflict and challenges our ways of seeing war.

Review

In Trebuchet Magazine

Event

Beyond the Geographies of War: Exploring Art and Peace

UCL Department of Geography, Pearson Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT 11am-4pm,
27th March 2013

Introduction
Questions of geography – of space, place, home, environment, landscape and territory – are a recurring theme in the responses of artists to war. But how do they figure in the relationship between art and peace? How can we understand the role that spatial practices and spatial themes play in creating peace as well as in articulating resistance to war and violence? This workshop will explore these questions with reference to the Iraq war but also branch out to consider the relationship between geography, art and peace more broadly. With talks by artists Rashad Selim and Emily Johns and academic Bernadette Buckley (Goldsmiths, University of London), and touching on issues of oil, water and ecology as well as politics and war, the workshop provides an opportunity to reflect on how art, activism and critical spatial practices can inform one another.

Timetable and speakers
10.30am Registration; tea and coffee; viewing of Art and War: Iraq Revisited exhibition in North Lodge, adjacent to Pearson Building

11.00 Introduction: Alan Ingram Dr Alan Ingram is Senior Lecturer at UCL Department of Geography, where he teaches critical approaches to political geography and geopolitics. His current research focuses on the responses of artists and art institutions to the most recent Iraq war and forms the basis for the exhibition Geographies of War: Iraq Revisited.

11.30 Emily Johns Emily Johns is a printmaker, illustrator, poetry publisher, newspaper editor and activist who has been involved in art and peace work concerning Iraq and related issues since the early 1990s. Having studied geography at Durham she immediately afterwards studied fine art at Goldsmiths, ‘because pictures seemed to be the right medium in which to think about geography’. Her work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions and used in a wide variety of ways beyond gallery settings. Much of her work has been commissioned by anti-war campaigning groups and used in demonstrations and related publications. She is the recipient of several awards and her work is held in a number of public collections. For a recent collaborative project Conscious Oil: Myth and Mind in the Age of Petroleum, she created large scale lino-etchings, ‘What the Oil is Thinking’, which have their political roots in almost 20 years of work on the war in Iraq, the Iran crisis and how geopolitics and oil have coagulated.

12.00 Q&A and discussion

12.30 Lunch

2.00 Rashad Selim Rashad Selim is an artist and printmaker, painter, sculptor, curator, illustrator, essayist, cultural researcher, grassroots development worker and project animator. Over the course of the last decade his work has often been concerned with the causes and effects of the war and with developing new resources and approaches to overcome limitations set in the present landscape. In 2007-2008 he was artist-in-residence for the Green Zone/Red Zone exhibition at the Gemak gallery in the Hague, which examined the redivision of cities under the pretext of security. More recently he has created Re-Piano, an ongoing art project that centres on the reclamation, reinvention and renewal of defunct pianos. The process of opening and remaking embodies a wider process – an opening of the imagination that is called for in any situation where established systems have become dysfunctional. Re-Piano proposes that this process is not a matter of starting something new but of re-engaging with the huge wealth of what we already have. 2.30 Q&A and discussion

3.00 Discussant: Bernadette Buckley Bernadette Buckley is Lecturer in International Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. While her research interests traverse a number of different fields, she has long been interested in the complex relationships between art and war and/or art and terrorism. Simultaneously however, an interest in ‘Gallery Studies’ has led her to explore the relationship between ‘curating’ and ‘creating’ and to investigate the ontology of curating from the perspective of the ‘event’. In this vein also, she is interested in the (de) differentiation between ‘contemporary art’, ‘heritage’, ‘education’ and other areas of practice. Additionally here she has explored notions of (un)‘education’ both in ‘artistic’ and in ‘gallery’ practices. Her key essays include ‘Mohammed is Absent, I am Performing’ (in Iraq and the Destruction of Heritage, P. Stone, & J. Farchakh, eds., HMP: London, 2008) and ‘Terrible Beauties’, (in Art in the Age of Terrorism, eds. G. Coulter Smith & M. Owen, Paul Holberton, New York, 2005). She has contributed catalogue essays to a number of exhibitions and published interviews with a wide range of contemporary artists.

3.15 Discussion

4.00 End