Guernica – a platform for conflict artists

Short read

Margaux Portron, Research and Communications Associate, Artraker.

I took part in #peacehackLdn, a hackathon for peace organised by International Alert in London. If you’re unfamiliar with what a hackathon is, this is the definition given by Wikipedia:

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.

It means you spend two days locked up in a room and try and end up with an app or a  software. In this case, we had to adress the theme of violent extremism.

This was our proposal on saturday morning:

With a team of developers we worked on that platform for conflict artists, which we called Guernica in reference to the famous painting by Picasso, deemed the most universal manifesto against war:

hackathon

Guernica, Picasso, 1937, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Guernica, Picasso, 1937, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The idea for the platform relies on two concepts: fairtrade and counter-narrative. In terms of visual we are aiming for a simple design such as Patreon or Hiive. It should be fairly light so that people in conflict zones don’t have to wait for the page to load.

We want artists from conflict zones to be able to do the job they want in their home country – if they want to. It means that if you’re a client, instead of commissionning a Western Artist, you can find one in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, to do the same job. Artists can make a profile, get commissioned and paid via bitcoin. They can also create crowdfunding projects. This job or project might be a photo-essay on Palestine on an advertising campaign for TFL.

Khartoon: A satirical take on power by Khalid Albaih. Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24142913

Khartoon: A satirical take on power by Khalid Albaih. Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24142913

If you indeed need a story on Gaza, why not ask a Palestinian photographer? This is about the counternarrative aspect. In the meantime, artists need visibility to get work and to be safe in authoritarian countries: it protects them to have a “fan base”. Counter-narrative is also about freedom of speech.

We got a lot done but we’re still working on it! Tell us what you think so that we can make it better. For instance, do we need to limit countries? Are there other possibilities than bitcoin?

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Artraker Conversations – 2 – Ian D. Quick

Interview

Margaux Portron, Research and Communications Associate, Artraker.

Ian D. Quick learnt about Artraker through INCAS consulting, which is one of our partners. Ian himself works for ECAS,  covering Europe and the Middle East/North Africa region for the INCAS Group. Ian was previously interested in how the creative community tried to fill the gaps that had been left by official institutions. His interests in less structured, less formal entities working in Sri Lanka coincided with our exhibition Art of Peace travelling to Colombo as part of a week of events.

Happy International Peace Day!

Short read

Today is International Peace Day. It felt like the right time to introduce and develop what we at Artraker are doing.

Our name ‘Artraker’ is derived from ‘Muckraker’, a term coined by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. It refers to the adversarial journalistic movement before the First World War that investigated and published truthful reports on social issues. “Artraker” draws on this tradition.

Artraker was launched as an initiative in 2012 and established as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2013. It supports exceptional visual arts projects that shape how people and organisations understand, engage and respond to violent conflict and situations of violence.

unseen

For its inaugural Award, Artraker received 300 submissions from 90 countries.  An international jury shortlisted 17 submissions and from these 5 nominees for the Award were selected. 12 shortlisted submissions were exhibited at Artrakers Launch and Award Event held on International Peace Day (21 September 2013) and hosted by Goldsmiths College, London University.  Alexia Webster was the recipient Artraker’s inaugural Annual Award in 2013 and San Zaw Htway won the Award in 2014. It has now become an biennial Award and the next one will be given in 2016. 

Blue moon on the highway, by San Zaw Htway, winner of the 2014 Artraker prize and feature in “Art of Peace”.  San Zaw Htway was arrested in April 2015 for a political installation in Yangon. He was later released. (source: http://www.dvb.no/news/artist-arrested-after-casting-new-year-curse/49999)

Blue moon on the highway, by San Zaw Htway, winner of the 2014 Artraker prize and feature in “Art of Peace”.
San Zaw Htway was arrested in April 2015 for a political installation in Yangon. He was later released. (source: http://www.dvb.no/news/artist-arrested-after-casting-new-year-curse/49999)

In 2015 Artraker continues to promote the encounter, exchange and interaction, between peace-builders, researchers, and cultural organisations on the one hand, and artists and creative practitioners on the other.  

Our vision is to help shape and inspire through visual art how people and organisations understand, engage and respond to conflicts, and to become the recognised home for powerful conflict art and artists.

We take a three-pronged approach to realize this vision –

– Showcase conflict art – as a profound communicative tool to understand the complex issues of conflict

– Influence stakeholders – decision makers, NGOs, the public, art critics

– Build relationships and communities – with artists and organisations

Some of our ongoing projects include the exhibition “Art of Peace”, which travelled to London in 2014 and Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2015. It will come back next year to the UK.

Negative Peace is the cessation of violence. Positive peace… creates conditions for the elimination of the causes of violence.

Johan Galtung, 1990

We are also working on our “Positive Peace” project, a collaboration around four major themes between artists and experts. Keep posted!

Artraker is the brainchild of political artist, Manali Jagtap-Nyheim and a group of visionary peace-building, academic, and creative organisations.    

“Giving hope”, an interview with Yahya Zaloom, director of the P21 Gallery, London.

Interview, Short read

Margaux Portron, Research and Communications Associate, Artraker.

Last week I met with Yahya Zaloom, director of P21, after attending events there. The gallery curates art from the Arab world in general but as the latest exhibition is on and from Gaza I wanted his insights about conflict art.

 

 

Transcript of the interview here: http://tinyurl.com/P21gallery


Yahya Zaloom is a researcher in visual culture and curator on Arab art and culture. As a director of P21 his main focus is promoting art and culture from the Arab world or on the Arab world, through exhibitions and events at P21.
He holds an MA in Visual Culture from Westminster University (2011) and BA in Mixed Media Fine Arts from Westminster University (2005).


P21 Gallery
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21 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Nearest tube: Euston or King’s Cross St. Pancras
T. +44 (0) 20 7121 6190
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