Reflecting on the visualization of peace, one situation plays vividly in front of my eyes that I encountered on a summer day at the Baščaršija square in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the center of the square, you can find Sebilj, a wooden fountain from the Ottoman era. About this fountain it is said that travellers who drink from its water will one day return to Sarajevo. Amidst the crowded square, filled with tourists and locals, I saw a little boy, maybe three or four years old, standing on the step of the fountain. What stroke me was seeing this little boy holding and playing with a toy-rifle. He happily aimed at random passers-by, imitating shooting sounds. The boy attracted a lot of people’s attention, most of whom were laughingly pointing at him, being entertained, some even actively engaging with him, acting as if they were hit by a bullet, pretending to fall to the ground, fatally wounded by the boy’s rifle.
The title of the Irish photographer Richard Mosse’s most recent project, Tristes Tropiques, is borrowed from the memoirs of the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, originally published in 1955 – a book about “insignificant happenings” and “trivial circumstances” that the anthropologist encountered in Brazil among the Caduveo, Bororo, Nambikwara, and Tupi-Kawahib. According to Mosse, quoted in the Guardian article referenced below, Lévi-Strauss’ journeys “were similar enough to some of my own, almost a century later, in terms of the axes he travelled along.”
We receive much inspiration and many ideas for our work from encountering art, for we think that art and culture play a major role in our societies, heavily shaping all sorts of social interactions and performing a social function. Not surprisingly, we got very curious when we came across the edited volume Can Art Aid In Resolving Conflicts? The book features 103 individuals, most of them introduced as artists, others as curators, museum directors or researchers, for example.
Peace can be shown vicariously by documenting activities accompanying, reflecting and following from a given individual’s or group’s perception and experience of peace. Simply put, if a sense of peace prevails, individuals and groups of people tend to do things they would not do in the absence of a sense of peace. Such activities can be recorded visually.
When John Steinbeck visited the Soviet Union in 1947, he did so for the purpose of “honest reporting,” “neither critical nor favorable,” merely “set[ting] down what we saw and heard …” With him traveled Robert Capa, one of the most famous photographers of the time – a photographer usually designated a “war photographer.” Asked by the Soviet authorities why he wanted Capa to travel with him – after all, there were “lots of cameramen in the Soviet Union” – Steinbeck replied: “But you have no Capas.”
We are delighted to announce that imageandpeace.com has established a partnership with Archivo Platform.
Founded in 2012 by Ana Catarina Pinho, “Archivo is an independent research platform dedicated to reflecting on photography and visual culture through research, editorial and curatorial activities. Archivo defines itself through a series of annual projects developed through an interdisciplinary research network that contributes to traverse different disciplines and foster theoretical, practical and critical interventions, creating links between scholarship, artistic and cultural practices.”
War has different temporalities. There is the actual war – the execution of organized large-scale physical force – and there is its aftermath. Both temporalities are explored in photography in abundance, capturing visually what war looks like and what remains of it.
There is a third temporality, however, also a “signature of violence” (Manaugh 2020: 19), yet one that does not appear prominently in photography. This temporality references war’s preparations, its “spatial prerequisites” (Manaugh 2020: 11): the locations, buildings and sites where war is being prepared for, where armies train, where weapons systems are developed and constructed, and where the effects of warfare are researched. Without this dimension, the visualization of war remains incomplete.
2020 is coming to an end. This has certainly been an exceptional year. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, imageandpeace.com was launched during this year’s summer.
In Holidays in the Danger Zone: Entanglements of War and Tourism (2016), Debbie Lisle analyzes “dark” or “political tourism,” i.e. tourism encountering the aftermath of violent conflict. Lisle’s book elucidates what encounters of war and tourism looked like indifferent historical constellations (for example, the British Empire, post-World War II, bipolarity, and the “War on Terror”). It shows that these encounters are historically contingent, differing across space and over time, and that very often “counterconducts” can be found – social practices ignoring or challenging the hierarchical order within which they operate and which they are supposed to confirm.
We are pleased to share the Call for Papers for the biennial conference of the European Peace Research Association in August 2021. Next year’s conference themed Empowering Peace: The role of civil society in peacebuilding and conflict transformation will take place at Tampere University, Finland.