“When a conflict is prolonged, local people become isolated from the outside world, and their true lives and images become obscure in the eyes of the outsiders. Conflict itself rather than their suffering is presented to the world. (…) One of the objectives of cultural exchange is to protect such people against psychological and cultural isolation, that is, to provide links between these citizens in the area of conflict and outside societies.” Kazuo Ogoura

On 7 May 2015, as part of its programme for the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 56th Venice Biennale, RUYA is hosting a panel discussion on art, conflict and Iraq.

The panel will examine the role of art in conflict, and the ways in which artists’ contributions to this subject can be an effective element of change. Among the questions to be raised are:

  • Is the role of the arts increasingly relevant in communicating personal and political dimensions of a conflict – as a tool of self reflection and creativity that allows us to think outside of the boundaries constructed in conflict narratives?
  • Can art be a viable medium for resistance?
  • How has the public role of the artist changed?
  • Can art be a catalyst for recovering from trauma in post-conflict situations?
  • Can art be an alternative medium for communication (through images, symbols and personal narratives) in highly volatile situations where communication is difficult?
  • Despite decades of conflict, artists in the visual, literary and performing arts continue to practice within Iraq. The role that violence and trauma plays in the daily lives of these artists is impossible to ignore. The recent attacks and cultural cleansing make discussions about art in conflict zones more important than ever.

The panel speakers are:

Lamia Al-Gailani Werr, leading archeologist who has written extensively on Iraqi archeology and cultural heritage, based at UCL, London.

Charles Tripp, Professor of Politics at SOAS, London and author of A History of Iraq (2008) among others. He is a member Culture+Conflict, a UK based NGO.

Justine Hardy, author and trauma psychologist who founded the groundbreaking mental health project Healing Kashmir.

Kader Attia, French-Algerian artist who focuses on the aesthetics and ethics of different cultures, as well as the theme of reparation. He has appeared at international exhibitions like DOCUMENTA (2012).

Venetia Porter,  curator of the Islamic and Middle Eastern art collections at the British Museum, where she has curated two major exhibitions Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East  (London 2006, Dubai 2008) and Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam (London 2012).

Gilles Kepel, political scientist and specialist of contemporary Middle Eastern politics, and author of The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West (2004).

Tamara Chalabi, historian and author, and chairman of Ruya Foundation that commissioned the National Pavilion of Iraq at the Venice Biennale in both 2013 and 2015.

Philippe Van Cauteren, Artistic Director of S.M.A.K, Ghent and curator of the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 56th Venice Biennale.

Date: 7 May 2015
Time: 16.00-18.00

Please note that places at the panel are limited so booking is essential.

To request a place on the talk, please contact: RSVP@ruyafoundation.org