One Day, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.
MyWar: Participation in an Age of Conflict
Contemporary Feature and
Davies Foundation Galleries
15 January - 10 April
Union Gallery, Stauffer Library
15 January - 12 February
Blog!, participate! and share! are the battle cries of a media culture in which boundaries between private and public have been decisively eroded. In this context, MyWar: Participation in an Age of Conflict attempts to locate the moral implications and accommodations of war in an era of continuous global unrest. The show examines the experience of war through the work of 10 international artists: Joseph DeLappe, Dunne & Raby, Harun Farocki, Harrell Fletcher, Oliver Laric, Renzo Martens, SWAMP, Thomson & Craighead, Milica Tomic and Sarah Vanagt. Their art investigates how we encounter armed conflict and its effects at a time when digital networking has transformed the way we receive and respond to information.
A range of approaches and intertwining themes emerge in this group exhibition. Several artists engage with the ways web technologies infiltrate and influence global wars. By folding the names of real war casualties into the virtual space of the America's Army online recruiting game, for example, Joseph DeLappe's dead-in-iraq (2004) counteracts the anonymity of a mediatised war and its unknown victims. Computer-aided trauma therapy for veterans is addressed by Harun Farocki. His film Immersion (2009) poses the question: can the mental effects of warfare be ameliorated through game technologies? Adopting a radically individual approach to war, Renzo Martens' Episode I (2004) reflects on the narcissism of news media when, amidst a war zone, the artist turns the camera onto himself to ask the war's victims and participants, not what is happening to them, but what they think of him.
In contrast, Harrell Fletcher's Humans at War (2005) articulates a longing for personal connection and empathy: the artist directs a real life social networking exercise in which students connect with people with memories of war. Our thanks are extended to Professor Ted Rettig and his students, and to all those who collaborated by sharing their personal experiences in support of the Humans at War project. Alexandra Simpson's research during the summer of 2010 (as part of a graduate practicum course) helped make this initiative possible.
This exhibition was organised and toured by FACT, Liverpool, UK and Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany in cooperation with ISEA2010 RUHR, Germany and curated by Andreas Broeckmann, Heather Corcoran and Sabine Himmelsbach. MyWar is presented with the support of the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, Queen's University, the Ontario Arts Council (an agency of the Government of Ontario), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Kingston Arts Council and the City of Kingston through the City of Kingston Arts Fund. We thank the Union Gallery for their collaboration in presenting MyWar.