Presentation on theme: "Mona Forghani Project report STS390, “Media, war and peace” Spring session, 2008 Science, Technology & Society University of Wollongong The report has."— Presentation transcript:
Mona Forghani Project report STS390, “Media, war and peace” Spring session, 2008 Science, Technology & Society University of Wollongong The report has two parts. 1. A response pack for an actual organisation. This is not an official document and does not necessarily represent the views of the organisation. Mona Forghani’s response pack for the Museum of Contemporary Art starts on the next slide. 2. A dialogue between students discussing the project. This dialogue is fictional. Pseudonyms were used so that the marker, Brian Martin, would not know the identity of student authors. Mona Forghani’s dialogue is a separate file.
A Picture Says a Thousand Words Explaining the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) approach to establishing positive-peace
Dear valued employees, The following is a short presentation designed to assist you in answering questions by our visitors in regards to our recent emphasis on the exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art. We welcome your thoughts and feedback upon the conclusion of this workshop. Yours sincerely, The Museum of Contemporary Art
The New Trend The contemporary peace-building world has revamped its style.
Negative peace has outgrown its ‘IT’ status and has handed down its crown to positive peace. Fellow members of the MCA, positive peace is the new black.
A seeming paradox, ‘negative peace’ is far from an obscurity. In fact, it is a familiar concept to our society.
‘Negative’ in the sense of inaction, the term refers to the establishment of a peace achieved through suppression of the manifestations of disunity without resolving its causes. L Sandy nd R Perkins, ‘The Nature of Peace and Its Implications for Peace Education’ The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution, vol 4, no. 2, 2002, pp. 1-8, ojpcr_4_2/ojpcr_4_2a.pdfojpcr_4_2/ojpcr_4_2a.pdf, viewed 18 October 2008
Criticised as a highly-passive and simplistic approach to peace-building, strategies of negative peace building rely heavily on government and other authoritative bodies to enforce their goals of non-violence and security. L Sandy nd R Perkins, ‘The Nature of Peace and Its Implications for Peace Education’ The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution, vol 4, no. 2, 2002, pp. 1-8, ojpcr_4_2/ojpcr_4_2a.pdfojpcr_4_2/ojpcr_4_2a.pdf, viewed 18 October 2008
Whilst this may achieve an absence of violence between groups in a community, there undoubtedly lingers between them an unresolved mutuality of distrust, hostility and dissociation
The inadequacy of negative peace as a unifying source has illustrated the need for proactive means of peace - building.
Termed ‘positive peace’ this approach takes peace-building back to basics arguing that the unity and security of a community depends on the mutual co- operation, empathy and integration of its members
Bringing it Home.
A history of mistreatment, suppression and neglect of our Indigenous people has caused them to rank today amongst the most disadvantaged citizens of this nation.
Since arrival of the British in 1788, our Indigenous people have continuously suffered under prejudicial government- imposed policies of segregation protectionism assimilation genocide and exclusion.
Throughout the decades, we have witnessed the manifestation of these policies through acts of physical violence, rape, the forced removal of children into State-run foster homes, denial of land and citizenry rights and exclusion in the national consensus of Aboriginal peoples. Lamb and Littrich Lawyers in Australia The Federation Press Sydney 2007 p. 131
Now in 2008, where such explicitly racist policies are arguably absent people sit back in their chairs too quickly and assume that ‘ peace ’ has finally been established between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians.
In reality, what we have so far accomplished can be characterised as ‘negative peace’ a suppression of the manifestations of disunity. But have we resolved its causes?
Undoubtedly, racism continues to linger.
Racism need not be manifested in actual words or deeds. Mere exclusion of a racial group qualifies as ‘racism’. D Goldberg Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning Blackwell Publishers USA 2002 p. 95
Whilst representation of Aboriginal people occasionally feature in the media, they are arguably depicted in a manner which tends to suggest them as the cultural ‘other’
DAILY TELEGRAPH NEWS HEADLINES The media constantly distinguishes between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians Aborigines reclaim Devil's Marbles to the Davenport Range National Park. The hand backs are expected to benefit about 300 Aboriginal people… Amazing calendars for 2005 Aboriginal model Shana Barney who's featured on the Jinalli 2001 FHM …. Race tension over Thurston uncle Up to 70 Aboriginal people have gathered outside court this morning…
The recognition of the need for fostering ‘positive peace’ in the Australian community is supported by the words of Patrick Dodson, former Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
Responding to the National Apology addressed by PM Kevin Rudd on the 13th February 2008 to our Indigenous Australians, Dodson spoke on behalf of the Aboriginal community in stating “we cannot rely on government leadership alone, but must seek out our fellow citizens and challenge the fears that block our dialogue ” P Dodson, ‘After the Apology’ Arena Magazine, Issue 94 pp , au:2048/fullText;res=APAFT;dn= au:2048/fullText;res=APAFT;dn= , viewed 18 October 2008
A Small Step for the MCA. A Giant Leap for Mankind.
It is this ‘opening of dialogue’ which the MCA seeks to assist
In our vision statement, we claim to be fundamentally engaged in the pursuit of contemporary art and ideas
Partaking in this process of establishing a national ‘ positive peace’ satisfies our appetite for contemporary ideas. And exhibiting contemporary art is what we identify as the means to this end.
Thus, our proposal to help foster positive peace relations between Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal Australians through the exhibition and acclaim of the former’s art, is essentially our way of killing two birds with one stone …
Now that we know why we do what we do here is the answer on how we do it :
A Picture Says a Thousand Words
As passionate advocates of art, it is crucial to emphasise to our visitors that the MCA values art not only for its aesthetic appeal, but in its ability to inspire new thinking and discourse.
Tell our visitors: Art is a visual language. And conveniently, we all speak it. It delivers meaning in a form which is expressive and universally understood.
Ask visitors to consider the meanings represented in children’s artworks. Through the use of simplistic lines and basic colours, children can convey complex messages and emotions which they would otherwise struggle to articulate in words.
Similarly, it should be emphasised that art is characteristically subjective. It not only projects a way of seeing the world, but a way of experiencing it through the eyes of the artist. M Hinkson, ‘On looking at and feeling Aboriginal art’, Arena Magazine issue 93, pp. 48 – 51, Text;res=APAFT;dn= , Text;res=APAFT;dn= viewed 23 October 2008
This quality is of most importance to our project. An artwork essentially provides the artist with airtime to express their views, experiences and emotions on a one-to- one basis with the audience, free from third party intermediaries and narrators.
Perhaps this is why we request our visitors to remain quiet. Our paintings do enough of the talking.
The Proof is in the Pyramids
Whilst the above justifications will satisfy the ‘arty farty’ visitors, our more cynical visitors may require an example of how art has been utilised elsewhere for peace-building purposes.
In such circumstances, you could refer to the ‘Between the Walls’ exhibition in C airo in April of this year.
In Cairo, Egypt, in April this year, the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) affiliated with the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) to organise a ten-day program commemorating the 60 th anniversary of Nakba (the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948). ‘Egyptian Authorities Reinforce Anti-Palestine Campaign’, The Electronic Intifada, 5 May 2008
The organisers anticipated that the commemoration would serve to raise awareness amongst the Egyptian youth of the sufferings and hardships these Palestinian people continue to face as a result of their displacement and insight their empathy and compassion, despite the Egyptian government’s anti- Palestinian stance. Ibid
To execute these controversial objectives, the organisers recognised art as the most effective and competent vehicle of delivery. In justifying this approach, they stated that art is not only the most accessible mode of communication, but furthermore, was likely to inspire the youth with greater strength than any other form of action. ‘Palestinian Lives Between Walls’, Daily News Egypt, 23 April /printerfriendly.aspx?ArticleID=13276
Consequently, an exhibition titled ‘Between the Walls’ was held in a prominent art museum in Cairo known as the ‘Townhouse Gallery’. The exhibition featured paintings, photographs and a series of short documentary films each depicting the lives and personal stories of these displaced Palestinian people.
Described as ‘aesthetically well- crafted…[and] emotionally and mentally moving’, the exhibition attracted hundreds of Egyptian youth and was commended for its ability to attract not only the minds but the hearts of its visitors. ‘Palestinian Lives Between Walls’, Daily News Egypt, 23 April /printerfriendly.aspx?ArticleID=13276
Amidst a national climate of strong anti- Palestinian sentiment, the organisers of the event succeeded in utilising the language of art to open a heart-to-heart dialogue between hundreds of Egyptian youth and their displaced Palestinian neighbours. Ibid
Our mentality at the MCA is: if Egypt can do it, so can we.
Our reputation as ‘connoisseurs’ of contemporary Australian art serves as an important advantage in the execution of our peace -building objectives.
Considered ‘authority’ in the definition of culture taste, our ‘connoisseur’ status aids us in pronouncing, through our exhibitions, Aboriginal art as not only ‘ high culture’ but a culture integral to this nation.
Furthermore, we hope that through the exhibition of their art, we are giving our Indigenous people an opportunity to tell the rest of the nation their story. And in their own ‘ words ’.
Composed in a style and convention specific to the culture, we believe these contemporary Aboriginal artworks will attract the eyes, minds and hearts of their onlookers and assist them to better understand the culture and aspirations of our Indigenous Australians.
We must emphasise to our visitors, that in our climate and history of failure to hear, it is through art that we are inspired to take the time to listen and appreciate the thoughts of our neglected Indigenous peoples.
And like so, we begin to open dialogue for the establishment of a positive peace.