Pratt Manhattan Gallery will present “Zones of Conflict,” an exhibition that assembles key examples of photographic and video-based artworks that focus on contemporary war, particularly in the Middle East, from November 19, 2008 – February 7, 2009. The exhibition and corresponding events are free and open to the public.
“Zones of Conflict” presents multiple artistic approaches, including those that document experiences of conflict that fall below the radar of the mass media. The exhibition explores work by contemporary artists who have challenged and recalculated documentary conventions in critical and creative ways, such as by blurring the boundaries between truth and fiction, giving expression to traumatic situations, and raising discord to the surface of representational structures. The result is not only a displacement of photography’s erstwhile mission as the objective and neutral transmission of fact, but also an imaginative recalibration of the documentary mode in order to generate new models of “truth.”
The exhibition, guest-curated by T. J. Demos, features work by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Iraq), Sam Durant (U.S.A.), Andrea Geyer (Germany) and Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Nation – U.S.A.), Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland), Emily Jacir (Palestine), Lamia Joreige (Lebanon), An-My Lê (U.S.A.), Walid Raad (Lebanon/U.S.A.), Ahlam Shibli (Palestine), Sean Snyder (U.S.A.), Hito Steyerl (Germany), and Guy Tillim (South Africa).
“With the U.S. engaged in a ‘war on terror’ now more than seven years old, it is urgent to look back on and examine recent artistic approaches to geopolitical conflict, approaches largely made through the innovative reinvention of the documentary mediums of photography and video,” said guest curator Demos.
Demos writes widely on modern and contemporary art; his essays have appeared in journals including Grey Room and October and his art criticism has appeared in magazines such as Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, and Art Press. He is the author of The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2007) and is currently working on a new book-length study, Migrations: Contemporary Art and Globalization.
Demos currently lectures in modern and contemporary art at University College London.
“Image Wars: Rethinking Documentary Practice During Global Crisis,” an interdisciplinary symposium in conjunction with the exhibition, will be moderated by Demos on Friday, January 30th at 2 p.m. in the gallery.
The exhibition is the second in a series of three at Pratt Manhattan Gallery that will focus on politics and media. “Party Headquarters: Voting is Just the Beginning,” an exhibition of political art works guest curated by Eleanor Heartney and Larry Litt, took place from September 25 – November 4, 2008. The third and last exhibition, “Broadcast,” which runs from February 20 – May 2, 2009, will explore the ways in which artists since the late 1960s have engaged with, critiqued, and inserted themselves into the official channels of broadcast television and radio. “Broadcast” is guest curated by Irene Hofmann, co-organized by the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, and Independent Curators International (iCI), New York, and circulated by iCI.