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Brandeis University | International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Peacebuilding and the Arts: Exploring the contributions of arts and culture to peace
Armine Avetisyan
July 2021

Dear readers of the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now e-newsletter,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the July issue of our newsletter and share what has been happening recently at the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation), while also spotlighting some inspiring projects, initiatives and resources in the field of arts, culture and conflict transformation more broadly.

Artists and cultural workers from various corners of the world continue to address complex challenges that communities across the globe are facing, including the climate crisis, racial injustice and inequality, authoritarianism and oppression, current armed conflicts and legacies of past violence, as well as many others. Their creativity and excellence shed light on these pressing issues, and help to build resilience and imagine a different world. 

In this issue of the newsletter, we offer a small selection of examples of how artists have been raising their voices against anti-Asian hate and violence, and in response to the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East. A few other examples showcase the critical stance that cultural institutions take towards justice, equity, and decolonization efforts.

The IMPACT Leadership Circle members continue inspiring us by celebrating artists whose work makes a difference. Their stories about these artists open the IMPACT section of the newsletter.

The “Making the Case” research project that IMPACT is undertaking together with the Community Arts Network of the Porticus Foundation and ReCAST, Inc. brings in scholarly rigor and backing for the power of artistic and cultural processes in addressing the complex global challenges mentioned above. We invite you to get to know the diverse team of researchers and writers engaged in this endeavor.

Ana Cabria Mellace of Fundacion Cambio Democratica, who joined IMPACT’s Learning Exchange team, writes about the inquiry on culture as sustainability that IMPACT has begun to undertake in 2021. The inquiry will culminate in a virtual Learning Exchange at Platform4Dialogue during the first week of November. Stay tuned for details!

IMPACT continues nourishing relationships with old and new partners. The journey with the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival (Cyprus) in its endeavour of unpacking the theme of Displacement carries on. The hybrid online and in-person festival will happen in October 2021. You can get to know the participating artists and see work in progress on the Buffer Fringe website. The newly-born cooperation with the Festival Academy continues to grow. IMPACT’s Carmen Olaechea spoke on the panel, “The sustainability of festivals in a time of COVID-19,” at the Festival Academy’s Atelier Düsseldorf/Theater der Welt 2021

As always, we’ve compiled a list of some exciting events and resources from the field that may inspire your work and become useful tools. Be sure to check out the “Contested Resonances: Creativity, Listening and Performance in Conflict Transformation” virtual conference, where I (along with two colleagues) will be sharing news about initiatives and developments at the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts on July 30, during the last session of the day.

Examples of new resources include “INSPIRE: Artistic Encounters in War and Violent Conflict,” Inspirational Creative Practice: The Work of Artists after War and Violent Conflict, a research project that studies the role of artists and creative practice in and after violent conflict; and two items from the Artists at Risk Connection: the report, “Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia,” and the new monthly Spanish-language podcast, "¡El Arte no Calla!.” 

Thank you for following our stories and for your committed work towards a more just and peaceful world.

Cordial greetings,
Armine, IMPACT Program Manager

Artists confront anti-Asian hate and other current justice issues
Compiled by Kyle Desrosiers, Tel Aviv University, and Armine Avetisyan
person sitting on a bed in a defeated pose with posters of Asian movestars on the wall
Andrew Kung, Wish I Had A Hero Who Looks Like Me, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.
6 Asian American and Pacific Islander artists reflect on the spike in anti-Asian violence
ARTSY.net, Editorial Board
“For many within the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, the recent spike in racially motivated attacks against Asians in the United States has been alarming and disturbing, but comes as little surprise. U.S. history demonstrates that time and time again, Asians have consistently been used as scapegoats, from the whitewashing of railroad construction to Japanese internment to the murder of Vincent Chin to the ‘China virus’—all the while being labeled the ‘model minority.’ AAPI artists have long been at the forefront of highlighting and unpacking this often invisibilized reality.”

​​Asian-American Artists, Now Activists, Push Back Against Hate
The New York Times, Aruna D’Souza
“Newly spurred to action to combat bias, they generate subway posters, leverage social media, stage Zoom webinars. ‘Our community couldn’t take being invisible any longer,’ one artist says.”

Meet the Artist Who Created God Bless the Child, Featured on TIME’s Cover
TIME, Victor Williams
“Visions of Equity is a special project conceived and curated by TIME’s BIPOC staff, featuring stories about the fight for racial justice and ways to build a better world. Those of us leading the project were blown away when we saw God Bless the Child. Casteel’s mother named the painting after the Billie Holiday song. Casteel said she particularly loved rendering the hair. ‘It feels familiar,’ she says. ‘I see myself represented in this work.’”

UN Women’s New Benefit Auction and Show Spotlight Black Women Artists across the World
Artsy.net, Daria Harper
“This July, UN Women—the branch of the United Nations dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment—is holding “A Force for Change—UN Women: Benefit Auction 2021.” The online auction, which opened exclusively on Artsy and runs through July 30th, will benefit UN Women’s Black Women Programme, which will support a number of Black women–led organizations across the globe.”

Read more stories.

Escalation of Violence in the Middle East: stories from artists
woman standing in front of a slide showing damaged buildings
Farah Elle (Niall Carson/PA). Source: Irish Examiner.
Story of women affected by Northern Ireland, Israeli and Palestine conflict told in art project
Irish Examiner, Rebecca Black
Herstory’s new Parallel Peace Project sees Israeli, Palestinian and Northern Irish peace activists take part in the project which expresses experiences of conflict and injustice, as well as dreams for peace. It included shows in Dublin, Belfast and Jerusalem as symbols of hope and solidarity.

Caught in a War Zone, Artists and Cultural Leaders in Gaza and Israel Say the International Art Community Must Stand With Palestine
Artnet news, Rebecca Anne Proctor
“The conflict is the latest eruption of violence in the region. But some Palestinians say this time feels different.”
How Artists Are Supporting Victims of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
ARTnews, Tessa Solomon
“As tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to escalate, artists are banding together to support victims of the conflict. Their projects have taken the form of print sales, Instagram Live sessions, and even NFTs, often with the focus on Palestine.”

Palestinian Art Proclaims a People’s Identity in the Conflict with Israel 
Al Fanar Media, Salah Bisar
“When political identity is under threat, culture becomes a resistance tool in the face of attempts to obliterate, annihilate and exclude. Resistance is a form of memory in exchange for forgetting. A stateless person would consider writing or art a home to dwell in.”
IMPACT logo: IMPACT Imaginging Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation
Spotlight on selected artists by IMPACT Leadership Circle members
We invited IMPACT (Imagining Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation) Leadership Circle members to introduce us to some of the artists whose work they admire.
on left, painting of swirls and people; on right, man in hospital bed looking at camera while nurse tends to him
“Grace Before Dying” (2007 - 2017). Photo Courtesy of the artist.
Germaine Ingram
writes about Lori Waselchuk: Lori Waselchuk is a documentary photographer and visual activist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. In describing her work, she says that it is a “simultaneous inquiry into the lived experiences/poetic bodies of humans and the systems they inhabit, contest and construct.” Her work is grounded in multi-disciplinary collaborations that create experiences to define and convene community. A project of Lori’s that I find most affecting is "Grace Before Dying" (2007 - 2017) that documents a volunteer hospice program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Her photographs both confront the brutality and inhumanity of Louisiana’s penal system, and capture the profound care and comfort that Angola inmates show to men in their final stages of life. Exhibitions of Lori's photos have included quilts hand-sewn by a cadre of prisoner-quilt-makers. Sale of the quilts helps to support the hospice program.  

Jaime Black
Profile picture of Jaime Black.
Toni Shapiro-Phim writes about Jaime Black: Canada-based Jaime Black is a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent. Black describes her art practice as being engaged with “memory, identity, place and resistance, and… grounded in an understanding of the body and the land as sources of cultural and spiritual knowledge.” One of her installations that I’ve found particularly compelling over the past few years is her REDress Project. Addressing the scourge of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, Black created an evocative work through the hanging of empty red dresses—in particular landscapes or in galleries or outside public buildings. The absence of bodies alludes to the thousands of women and girls who had been members of families and communities, all of them kidnapped, trafficked and/or murdered. In 2019, the Canadian government declared the decades of missing and murdered Indigenous women a “genocide.” Black had been putting a spotlight on this travesty since 2011. As she explains it, “Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence.”       
graphic of arrows and a map and
"95 Stops". Photo courtesy of the artist.
Ellada Evangelou  writes about Nurtane Karagil: Nurtane Karagil (b. 1989, London, UK) studied Fine Arts at the University of Hacettepe and holds an MA from the University of Brighton. She lives in the medieval city of Famagusta, Cyprus, where she is associated with spaces such as Pikadilli and Mağusa Kale Pasajı, and where she also teaches and participates in projects. Recent exhibitions include: Terra Mediterranea: In Action, 2017, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre; Plánetes, 2017, Palia Ilektriki (as part of Cultural Capital of Europe Pafos 2017); SKT, Efruz, 2016, Nicosia; Bank of No, 2015, Leventis Gallery - Point Centre of Contemporary Art, Nicosia; Stepping over the borders, 2015, EMAA, Nicosia; How should a war be remembered?, 2015, Cer Modern Hub Art Space, Ankara and others. Nurtane was a participant in the Buffer Fringe Festival in 2020 and will be again in 2021, with the 95 Stops project. 
"Making the Case" Research Project
graphic that says
 Photo courtesy of Community Arts Network. 
IMPACT is partnering with the Community Arts Network, a joint venture of the Porticus and Hilti Foundations, along with  ReCAST, Inc. to research the power of—and make the case for—arts and cultural processes in addressing complex challenges that our planet is facing, including climate change, inequalities and poverty, legacies of violent conflict, the rise of authoritarianism, gender-based violence and many more.

Cynthia Cohen, the director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and an IMPACT Leadership Circle member, put together a diverse team of researchers representing multiple perspectives, including artists, scholars, and practitioners, to explore nine qualities of the arts: dignity, beauty, creativity, agency, ambiguity, beyond rationality, paradox, interdependence, and honesty. The team of researchers includes Ángela María Pérez (Colombia), Toni Shapiro-Phim (USA), Armine Avetisyan (Armenia/USA), Bonface Beti (Kenya), Mary Ann Hunter (Australia), Dagmar Reichert (Switzerland), Jasmina Ibrahimovic (Netherlands), Carole Kane (Northern Ireland), Ameer Shaheed (Switzerland), Polly Walker (USA), and Emily Forsyth Queen (USA). Through the journey of exploring their topics, the researchers were engaged in conversations with each other and with some “Thinking Partners”: James Thompson, John Paul Lederach and Carole Kane. The findings of this exploration feed the “Making the Case” report, which is designed as a tool for practitioners, artists, funders, and policymakers who work to make a difference. The report will be published on the Community Arts Network website in August or September of 2021.

View CAN’s social media posts on the project. Watch the clip in which researchers talk about their interest in particular art qualities.

"Culture as Sustainability" Learning Exchange Coming Soon! 
drawing of hands around the earth
CORTESÍA DEL AUTOR. "Hands" by Georg Engeli. Photo courtesy of the artist.
[English version follows the Spanish.]

¡El Learning Exchange 2021 se acerca!
Y en el centro de la escena: La cultura como sustentabilidad
Por Ana Cabria Mellace, Directora Ejecutiva de Fundación Cambio Democrático (Argentina) y miembro del equipo de Intercambio de Aprendizaje sobre Cultura y Sustentabilidad

IMPACT ha producido ya seis Intercambios de Aprendizaje, ricos espacios de conversación entre pares que, a través del diálogo, promueven la indagación, la reflexión y el aprendizaje. Los temas que más movilizan al ecosistema del arte, la cultura y la transformación de conflictos han estado en el centro de cada conversación.
Lee mas.

The 2021 Learning Exchange is coming!
And the stage is set for: Culture as sustainability
By Ana Cabria Mellace, Executive Director of Fundacion Cambio Democratico (Argentina) and Sustainability as Culture Learning Exchange team member

IMPACT has already produced six Learning Exchanges (LE), rich spaces of conversation among peers that, through dialogue, promote inquiry, reflection and learning. Critical issues that mobilize the ecosystem of art, culture and conflict transformation have been at the center of each conversation. Read more.
Festival Academy
4 columns with photos of academy members, and the words 19/06, 12:00 (CEST) - The sustainability of festivals in a time of and beyond COVID-19
Panel Poster. Photo Courtesy of the Festival Academy.
IMPACT continues its partnership with the Festival Academy, a global community of 801 festival managers from 95 countries, which offers numerous leadership and capacity building programs for the festival managers and carries the conversation beyond the festivals to include the cultural dimensions of the challenges that the world is facing. On June 19, 2021, IMPACT Leadership Circle member Carmen Olaechea participated as a panelist at the Festival Academy’s Atelier Düsseldorf/Theater der Welt 2021, to speak about the sustainability of festivals in the light of a paradigm shift that humanity is experiencing. (See the article in this newsletter on “Culture as Sustainability.”) Among other issues, the panel, called, “The sustainability of festivals in a time of COVID-19,” addressed the following: 

*How has COVID-19 impacted the funding of festivals?
*What new business and partnership models are emerging for the sustainability of festivals?
*What are the key challenges to monetise online festivals and distribution of the arts, and what are some of the most successful models to have emerged in the last 18 months?
*How has COVID-19 impacted environmental sustainability? Are there new models being explored on that level?

Watch the panel discussion.

IMPACT logo: IMPACT Imaginging Together Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation
Upcoming Events
graphic of programme booklet cover that says Contested Resonances: Creativity, Listening adn Performance in Conflict Transformation, Virtual Conference 29th-30th July 2021 Programme Booklet
Conference Poster. Photo courtesy of Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
'Contested Resonances' Conference 2021
July 29-30, 2021 online

The “Contested Resonances: Creativity, Listening and Performance in Conflict Transformation” conference will be hosted online by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen's University, Belfast.

“This interdisciplinary conference will examine conflict and post-conflict contexts through sound in performative practice. Themes include: peacebuilding efforts by music-based community arts initiatives; sonic-arts and theatrical re-soundings of conflict; creative and musical interventions in conflict and post-conflict societies; sound-based methodologies for exploring the narratives and everyday experiences of people in post-conflict contexts.”

Cynthia Cohen, Toni Shapiro-Phim, and Armine Avetisyan will be sharing developments at the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts (Brandeis University, USA) and IMPACT at the Conference Keynote|Roundtable on July 30. 

Register for the virtual Conference.
Read the Conference Program Booklet

graphic of wavy lines and the words Buffer Fringe 2021
Festival Poster. Photo courtesy of Buffer Fringe Festival.
Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2021 (in collaboration with IMPACT)
Oct 8-10, in person in Cyprus, 
and online
Making it through a tough year, the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2021 returns to complement the work that was initiated in 2020 by giving artists and audiences a chance to complete the cycle they had started. In 2020 we developed a hybrid offline/online festival due to the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Festival entailed a strong work-in-progress component and fostered several innovative approaches in order to support artists, to provide a creative thinking space and to develop new audiences, set in motion with the theme of Displacement, which became the guiding pillar around which works were proposed, developed and presented. Through collaborations with local and international partners including IMPACT and Youth Board of Cyprus, we broadened and extended our horizons and fields of activity, and we aim to continue to do so in October 2021. 

Moreover, we are working on creating the grounds—through parallel events such as a meet-up/conference—to unpack concepts of social solidarity in the arts world, the roles and responsibilities of artistic platforms vis-a-vis the artists, support and planning mechanisms, and to further elaborate on how COVID-19 affected artists, the arts and the cultural sector. This is especially important in order to understand and re-create the future of the arts and festivals after the COVID-19 crisis.

Read about more events.

Announcements and Resources
a drawing of three women wearing sarongs and waving flags
“Our Sarong, our flag, our victory”/
Spring Revolution Collection, Kue Cool.
Research Project and Seminar Series: INSPIRE: Artistic Encounters in War and Violent Conflict
Inspirational Creative Practice: The Work of Artists after War and Violent Conflict is a research project that studies the role of artists and creative practice in and after violent conflict. The project is hosted by the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and connected to the PRIO Centre on Culture and Violent Conflict (CCC). Working with artists and activists in Myanmar and Sudan, and exiled artists in four European countries (France, The Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland), we explore what motivates those engaged in creative practice and how artistic expressions inspire others into action for social justice. The INSPIRE research project platform was launched in the beginning of June this year and is at the core of our research project. It functions as a space for critical and creative reflection as well as a live archive of the project. As a multi-disciplinary team, and particularly through the virtual platform, we hope to engage across different disciplines and different geographies, sharing ideas, showing our processes and creating a space that invites collaboration and co-creation of knowledge on themes and topics related to art and artistic practices in the context of war, violent conflict and exile. 

This autumn we will be organizing a seminar series, where invited researchers and artists will present their work and working methods. The seminar series will circulate around different themes such as ethics and research with artists; arts-based methods and collaborative research methods; researching art, artists, and conflict/war/post conflict; collaborative methods—researchers’ and artists’ perspectives; arts as transformation—in the context of violent conflict and war; and engaged scholarship. The seminars will happen online and take place monthly on Wednesdays, 12-13 CET. Visit the INSPIRE research platform for more information!

Call for Papers: Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice
Special Issue on “Climate Change, Conflict and Peace” 

Manuscript Deadline: October 15, 2021
“Under the guest editorship of Dr. Volker Boege, Senior Research Fellow at the Toda Peace Institute, and Dr. Ria Shibata, Research Fellow at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice invites articles for a special issue on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace. Climate change is one of the critical global challenges of our times with grave social, economic, political, cultural and environmental implications. We welcome submissions for a special issue that explores the multidimensional and far-reaching challenges of climate change that include political, technical, material, emotional, psychological, cultural and spiritual issues that can generate ripe conditions for conflict. This issue seeks to address the linkages between the effects of climate change, conflict, security and peace. Both case-based empirical-analytical and theoretical-conceptual contributions are welcome. While we imagine the bulk of submissions will come from academics, we also encourage civil society actors and policy makers to contribute their insights based on their experiences.”

Call for Papers: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 

Special Issue on “Oral History, Listening and Transitional Justice”
Abstract Deadline: October 31, 2021

“Theatre and performance practitioners working with narratives by people impacted by political violence in transitional justice scenarios are faced with a fundamental challenge: how to ethically and aesthetically mediate a social process in which a group of people share their painful experiences and others (a public) listen to them in the context of a performance or a workshop? Listening, in the context of such a creative process, comes centre stage. Listening is a crucial driver of transitional processes, both actual and artistic (Sotelo Castro, 2019 and 2020, Borneman 2002, Aranguren 2017, Jelin 2007). Increasingly, creative teams are using oral history and other interviewing techniques to collaborate with participants and record their narratives as part of a research and creation process. Curated fragments of the recorded stories may later be delivered verbatim by performers or, at times, by the interviewees themselves. Other approaches to performing oral histories include Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre. Oral history, thus, “does not solely belong to historians or to a particular paradigm” (Field, 2008). We embrace here an interdisciplinary understanding of oral history that positions creative and production teams, performers and audiences alike as listeners and witnesses of performances in which narratives told in the context of an interview are told again (Pollock, 1990) for an audience. At stake in such work are unresolved, often very complex social questions put forward by living people around justice and injustice, abuse of power, human rights violations, truth, needs of redress and healing, shattered trust, but also hope, community and peace-building.” See the full invitation for research papers and other contributions, including digital documentation and audio or photo essays, that address a number of relevant questions, practices and concerns. 

Podcast: "¡El Arte no Calla!,” a new monthly Spanish-language podcast of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)  
Artists At Risk Connection, a program of PEN America
“The podcast explores art, freedom of expression, and human rights in Latin America. In each episode, ARC's Latin America Representative Alessandro Zagato invites a different guest to help analyze the varying states of artistic freedom in Latin America and the violations that artists and activists are suffering in the region.” Some recent episodes are:
*Relocation of Artists at Risk in Latin America
*The Fight for Free Expression in Cuba with Julio Llópiz Casal
*Repression and Emancipatory Art in Guatemala
*Transgender Art and Censorship in Brazil with Renata Carvalho

Publication: Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia
Artists at Risk Connection, a program of PEN America
“The climate for artists across South, Southeast and East Asia is increasingly hostile, with the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to pose a serious threat to artistic freedom and the specter of censorship jeopardizing artists’ ability to work and speak out. In a new publication called Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia from PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)—produced in partnership with the Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)—artists across the Asian continent expressed serious fears, especially around digital security laws and nationalistic tendencies that threaten to impose a culture of conformity across one of the most vibrant, diverse regions for the arts in the world. Arresting Art presents the discussion and findings from a closed virtual workshop convened in December 2020.” Click for details and to download the full document.

Find more announcements and resources.

programme booklet cover that says Contested Resonances: Creativity, Listening and Performance in Conflict Transformation, Virtual Conference 29th-30th July 2021 Programme Booklet

'Contested Resonances: Creativity, Listening and Performance in Conflict Transformation' Conference 2021
July 29-30, 2021 online

graphic of wavy lines and the words Buffer Fringe 2021

Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival 2021
(in collaboration with IMPACT)
October 8-10, in person in Cyprus, and online

book cover Peace Review

Call for Papers: Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice
Special Issue on “Climate Change, Conflict and Peace” 

book cover

Call for Papers: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 
Special Issue on “Oral History, Listening and Transitional Justice”

flyer that says ITAC July Think Tank and has photos of two people
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Research Project and Seminar Series: INSPIRE: Artistic Encounters in War and Violent Conflict
Inspirational Creative Practice: The Work of Artists after War and Violent Conflict (INSPIRE)
drawing of three women wearing sarongs and waving flags
Peacebuilding and the Arts Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts
International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life
Brandeis University
415 South Street | MS 086 | Waltham, MA 02454-9110

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