Sounds like a great recent conference at McGill with TJ Demos, Rosalyn Deutsche and Martha Rosler – commentary and links from Derek Gregory.

geographical imaginations


Last weekend Media@McGill, in collaboration with DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, hosted a screening and conference on representations of war and conflict in art and art history (I’m grateful to Max Ritts for drawing my attention to it). Here is the original summary:

 Imaging War, Mediating Conflict: Recent Aesthetic Investigations addresses the politics, aesthetics and ethics of art and media practices relating to war from the 18th century until today, and assesses how such representations help to shape the experience of current conflicts, as well as their place in history.

There were two conference sessions (click on the title links for the abstracts).  The first, on Media, war and the state in the long eighteenth century, featured:

What’s so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding? Satirizing Peace in Georgian Britain | Douglas Fordham, University of Virginia

Wounds and Words: War, the State, and Media in the American Revolutionary War 

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A great short interview with Satta Hashem ahead of the Mosaic Rooms workshop this Friday.


Some days, a literature blog must diverge from the written word to other forms of translated expression.  

At the Mosaic Rooms on March 22, a number of artists and academics will come together to discuss “Art, War and Peace: Responses to the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.” The event has been organized by Dr. Alan Ingram, whose Responses to Iraq blog offers an overview of “Iraqi War Art” in the UK from 2003-present.

Ingram’s interest came, he said, because, “Art is an important way people and societies make sense of war and struggle against it. It gradually became apparent to me that there was a wider range of responses to the war through art than usually recognized, and that studying them could provide deeper understanding of it and alternative perspectives on it. I also found my own feelings and ideas about the war reflected and challenged by…

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Artists and writers talk about the Iraq war: confirmed programme for Mosaic Rooms 22.03.13

Art, War and Peace: Responses to the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Mosaic Rooms, London 22nd March 2013


How have artists and art institutions in the UK and beyond responded to the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq? How might we think about the entanglement of art, war and peace in light of these responses?

This one-day event will bring together artists and writers with ties to Iraq to reflect on these issues a decade on from the invasion. Reflecting a range of perspectives and practices, talks and discussions will explore the different ways in which the war has been experienced and the diverse forms of creativity through which artists have responded.

Art, War and Peace: Responses to the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq is organised by Dr Alan Ingram (UCL) and Yousif Naser (The Ark Artist Space). The event draws on research conducted by Alan Ingram at UCL Department of Geography, funded by the British Academy and is supported by UCL’s Public Engagement programme. The event also forms part of Reel Iraq 2013, a celebration of the arts and culture of Iraq.

Register for this event via the Mosaic Rooms.

Speakers and timetable

10.30 Tea and coffee

11.00 Introduction: Alan Ingram and Yousif Naser

11.30 Rashad Selim: Separation, Outflow and Attitudes of Return

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 this talk he will consider the continual outflow of art and artists from Iraq, the problems of confronting violence and abuse in art and challenges in re-engaging with what is happening in Iraq today.

12.00 Discussion

12.15 Satta Hashem: In Conflict: Reflections on the Constant War in Iraq

Satta Hashem creates drawings, paintings and prints which comprise graphic, symbolic, figurative and abstract styles. Trained in the Soviet Union and Sweden, his work deals with his own experience in relation to Iraq’s history of political violence and the legacies of Mesopotamian cultures and aims to communicate the sympathy he feels for those that find themselves constantly in the middle of the conflict in Iraq. In this talk he will discuss the development of his practice in relation to his concerns with colour theory, symbolism and the relationship between art work and political violence.

12.45 Discussion

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Nadje Al-Ali: We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War

Nadje Al-Ali is Professor of Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, where she conducts research on topics including women’s movements and feminism in the Middle East, transnationalism and diaspora, and violence and war and peace, with particular reference to Iraq.  Her talk will focus particularly on a recent book co-edited with Deborah al-Najjar (We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War New York: Syracuse University Press 2013). The book showcases written and visual contributions by Iraqi artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, photographers, and activists, exploring the way Iraqis retain, subvert, and produce art and activism as ways of coping with despair and resisting chaos and destruction.

14.30 Discussion

15:00 Hana Malallah: Professor of Art in Baghdad 2006, Refugee in London 2007

Hanaa Mallalah studied Fine Art in Baghdad with an emphasis on graphics and painting.  In 2005 her thesis concerning the logic order in Mesopotamian drawing gained her a PhD in the Philosophy of Painting. She has taught and lectured widely at a several faculties of the University of Fine Arts in Baghdad. Having lived through thirty five years of war, she was forced to leave Iraq in 2006 as academics and artists fell increasingly under threat of sectarian violence. Since 2007 her work has addressed the destruction of Iraq under occupation and her own experience of violence and exile, particularly through the idea of ruin. In this talk she will discuss the evolution of her practice in relation to experiences of violence, loss and survival.

15.30 Discussion

15.45 Tea and coffee

16:00 Film: SADA Summer Intensive 2012

Sada (, is a non-profit project supporting new and emerging arts practices through education initiatives in Iraq and public programs internationally. This short film is a record of the 2012 SADA Summer Intensive programme, which brought together artists and participants working in Baghdad with teaching artists and professors for a week of workshops in Northern Iraq. In documenting the Intensive, the film sheds light on the situation faced by young artists living and working in Baghdad today.

16:30 Discussion

17:00 End

Come and discuss geography, art and peace at UCL!

Beyond the Geographies of War: Exploring Art and Peace

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.

UCL Department of Geography, Wednesday 27th March 2013, 11am-4pm.

Attendance is free. Rsvp to Dr Alan Ingram, UCL Department of Geography, All are welcome, but if places are short priority will be given to nonacademic participants.

Geographies of War | Iraq Revisited

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.

Geographies of War | Iraq Revisited is curated by Dr Alan Ingram based on research conducted at UCL Department of Geographysupported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. The exhibition and related events are organised in conjunction with Reel Iraq 2013, a festival of Iraqi arts and culture taking place in cities across the UK, The Mosaic Rooms and Ark Space. Public engagement in the project is supported by UCL.

Further information:

Ten Years After: Reflections on the Invasion of Iraq

Ten Years After: Reflections on the Invasion of Iraq

Though it doesn’t say so on the poster, I’ll be speaking at the gallery talk for this exhibition on 14th February. It’ll be interesting for a number of reasons, including the following… First, the exhibition opens in the week of the tenth anniversary of the massive anti-war demonstrations that took place in the run up to war. Also, the link between Hana Malallah and kennardphillipps is one of very few collaborations between Iraqi and British artists examining and protesting the war, with various tensions and synergies between their practices. Both work in very geographically-attuned ways and I’ll be interested to see the results.

We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War

A short post to highlight this important new book edited by Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar, which showcases awork by Iraqi artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, photographers and activists. One key aspect of the book is in highlighting the diversity of Iraq itself, of Iraqi experience and of responses to authoritarianism, war, occupation, diaspora and resistance. There’s an interview with the editors here at Jadaliyya.