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MyWar: Participation in an Age of Conflict 

15 January – 10 April 2011 at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
15 January – 12 February 2011 at the Union Gallery, Stauffer Library

MyWar: Participation in an Age of Conflict examines the personal experience of war through the work of 10 international artists: Joseph DeLappe, Dunne & Raby, Harun Farocki, Harrell Fletcher, Oliver Laric, Renzo Martens, SWAMP, Thomson & Craighead, Milica Tomic and Sarah Vanagt. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001, war is no longer defined as a conflict between hostile states, but as a diffuse "war on terror." This expanded conception makes it difficult to imagine a world without war. It has become part of everyday life, penetrating society – from fashion to music, from film to television and computer games, war is part of the mass culture of the 21st century. MyWar not only aims to show how war, the media and world wide web are intertwined, but also to explore how participation, intervention and interaction have been emerging, enabled in part by the capabilities of Web 2.0.

This exhibition attempts to locate the moral implications and accommodations of war in an era of continuous global unrest. Renzo Martens' Episode I (2004) reflects on the narcissism of news media when, amidst a war zone, the artist turns the camera onto himself to ask the war's victims and  participants not what is happening to them, but what they think of him. Other works articulate a longing for personal connection and empathy in a networked world. In Harrell Fletcher's Humans at War (2005), the artist directs a real life social networking exercise in which students connect with people with war memories.

Other artists engage with the ways web technologies infiltrate and influence global wars. By folding the names of real war casualties into the virtual space of the America's Army online recruiting game, Joseph DeLappe's dead-in-iraq (2004) counteracts the anonymity of a mediatised war and its unknown victims. And computer-aided trauma therapy for veterans is addressed by Harun Farocki. His powerful film Immersion (2009) poses the question: can the mental effects of warfare be ameliorated through game technologies?

Events: 

Sunday 23 January
Philosopher’s Café: “Wars never really end: Digital Media Projections and Memory of Dispossession” with Dorit Naaman, 2 pm
Opening Reception, 3:15 – 4:30 pm

Thursday 3 and 10 March
Film Program: YourWar is MyWar programmed by Susan Cahill, 7 pm

Sunday 20 March
Public Lecture: “A View of Recent History, and a Glimpse of War” with Bill MacDonnell, 2 pm

This exhibition is organized and toured by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technologies), Liverpool, UK and Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany in cooperation with ISEA2010 RUHR, Germany and curated by Andreas Broeckmann, Heather Corcoran and Sabine Himmelsbach. MyWar is presented with the support of the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, Queen's University, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Kingston Arts Council and the City of Kingston through the City of Kingston Arts Fund. We thank the Union Gallery for their collaboration in presenting MyWar.

Thanks are extended to Professor Ted Rettig and his students, and to all those who collaborated by sharing their personal experiences in support of the Humans at War project. We are also grateful to Alexandra Simpson, whose research during the summer of 2010 (as part of a graduate practicum course) made this initiative possible.

For further information, contact Matthew Hills at 613.533.2190, matthew.hills@queensu.ca.

Image credit: Milica Tomic, One Day, 2009. Courtesy of the Artist

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