“There are only five musical notes, but melodies are so many we cannot possibly hear them all.” – Sun Tzu
War has been a theme of art since humans began to use linguistic and visual symbols in order to represent the world. It should not be surprising, therefore, to put together an exhibition that confirms this historical fact. Indeed, in a time when armed conflicts around the world abound, it would be surprising to ignore it.
The curatorial thought behind this exhibition is not to gather art works for or against war but to explore as many aspects of the phenomenon as have been intelligently addressed by artists. Thus, the methodological approach in building the exhibition has been two fold. On the topical side it has been both semantic and experiential. What are some of the important themes in the phenomenon of war? When we brainstorm about war we summon the themes of valor, fear, enemies, allies, weapons, discipline, desertion, treason, the victors, the vanquished, the dead, the maimed, those left-behind, returning home, collateral damage, the MIA, the prisoners of war, the weapons, the symbols, the wounds, the grateful, the blunders, the ruthless, the rules of war, the atrocities of war, the heroes, the war-criminals, the mercenaries, the spoils, conquest, etc. Although we do not have works dealing with all of these themes, they are ones defining the phenomenon of war. On the artistic side, our curatorial approach has been more empirical. We set out in search of the actual art works that give us insights into the themes listed above. In order to find them, we looked at recent art history and current artistic production. The search has not been limited to any particular medium or genre. We have considered painting, photography, installation, sculpture, video, film, mixedmedia, multi-media, mass media, on-line art, etc. We have not avoided points of views because to do so would have been contrary to the aim of understanding the phenomenon of war, however, we have passed on art works that are overtly propagandistic.
“The Art of War” exhibit aims to induce the viewer to reflect upon war through art. As some works in the show are historical signposts, we would also like to instil in the viewer a sense of wonder about what happened to the parties at war before, during and after each conflict.
Posted: April 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm