Looking back at the year 2023, we find it difficult to present a positive outlook for the upcoming year. Too many people suffer from violent conflict, and too many divisions exist, and seem to intensify, between and within countries. Advancements in peace seem illusionary in many contexts.
In times such as these, when the global perspective provides little impetus for hope, we want to use this opportunity to highlight the publication of our book Peace, Complexity, Visuality: Ambiguities in Peace and Conflict, which appeared in August with Palgrave MacMillan. In the book, we explore the tolerance of ambiguity-enhancing potentialities inherent in visual images – both theoretically-conceptually in light of complexity theory and by discussing an interactive visual project on post-war conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina published in 1996 by the New York Times on the Web, Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace. We believe that some of the ideas presented in the book carry with them potentialities for a more peaceful world and peaceful adjustment.
Despite visual representations of violence and human suffering in abundance, we still believe that images can give us hope. Numerous journalistic, artistic and participatory projects, including visual ones, document and reflect on transitions from violence to peace, reconciliation and peaceful change. We introduced some of these projects over the years and will continue doing so next year.
Indeed, in a forthcoming publication with Tiffany Fairey, we argue that the strong focus on representations of violence in the media helps explain the invisibility of peace in many visual discourses. Images showing peaceful interaction do exist but are seldom acknowledged as images of peace or analysed as such. Although it might seem that peace photography – both as a concept and a photographic practice – is, as Pippa Oldfield suggests, “as yet, embryonic,” we argue that it is not in its infancy anymore: images communicate not only (violent) conflict but also peace and they can contribute to peace. We will keep you updated on this publication as well.
Imageandpeace.com will be back next year, so visit our website regularly to stay fine-tuned for analyses and updates about the intersection between visual culture and peace.
For you as well as your family and friends, we wish you a pleasant turn of the year.