Art and Humanitarian: Learning

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Real Feelings – The Artist as Visionary by Ariane Koek

What is the essential role of artists in our society? This presentation posits artists as free radicals – who have the freedom and skills to give society new ways of looking at the implications of new developments in our world. Using the word visionary for artists is too limiting – drawing on a limited Enlightenment heritage which privileges sight over all the other senses. The work of artists is beyond vision – their work engages a multiplicity of senses not just sight, including our five senses, to trigger our intuition, our minds and our imaginations. Are the artists in fact humanitarian agents? By returning us to what makes us human and our humanity, so that we feel, intuit, imagine and think beyond our individual experiences to connect with others across time and space, we might get an answer.

Displacement as Method: Reflections on the “Humanitarian Caravaggio” by Francesco Zucconi

How did Caravaggio’s Sleeping Cupid (1608) end up on the island of Lampedusa? And why was The Seven Works of Mercy (1607) requested for display at a number of humanitarian public events? After critical reflection on these significant transfers, this talk investigates the underlying reasons for this interest in the works of Caravaggio. What emerges is the possibility of conceiving “displacement” as a paradigm for mobilizing the artistic heritage of the West in response to the urgent demands of our contemporary world.

Representing the Impossible: Trauma and Representation in Alfredo Jaar’s Rwandan Project by Olivier Chow, PhD

The aim of this presentation is to discuss the relation between trauma and representation in the work of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar (born 1956), mainly his installations dedicated to Africa, in particular Rwanda. It takes a closer look at how the artist engages with atrocities in particular genocide and examine how Alfredo Jaar’s installations both provoke and disarm our voyeuristic gaze, which so often underlies our engagement with the spectacle of atrocities. Chow later argues that the artist toys with the mechanisms of trauma, reprogramming the shock dynamics of trauma and substituting the aesthetics of the wound with the ‘document’, which he understands as ‘the contextualization and integration of image and event’. In the ‘document’, the post-traumatic gaze is both revived and buried, acknowledged and mourned. In the time and space of the ‘document’, the viewer can finally encounter, engage with and be present in the missed encounter of the traumatic event.