Friday, 20 February 2015

Art and violence (Ukraine diaries) and Somali remittances

It's been an inspiring week. Last night I was at the opening of Olha Pryymak's exhibition of 'Ukraine diaries', a series of paintings on the war in Ukraine. I was speaking on a panel with Svitlana Pyrkalo, a London-based Ukrainian writer and journalist and Natalia Antonova, a playwright and journalist, both of whom presented extremely thought-provoking personal reflections on the war. I gave an overview of the relationship between violence and art, something that has fascinated me for a long time. 

I based my talk around my observations of music in Congo and capoeira in Brazil, two art forms that have developed and persisted in contexts of violence and oppression. There is an intriguing contradiction that emerges from these two art forms and Olha Pryymak's paintings. It is that art is seldom strategic (and it is helpful to get away from an overly functional interpretation of its political mechanisms), but it can often be extremely effective nonetheless. How it is effective if it does not have a strategic function then becomes an engaging question. One of the answers is that it provides space that is simultaneously personal and political in which people can vest themselves emotionally and ideologically. Capoeira players create space for expressing historical continuity and Afro-Brazilian identity, Congolese musicians generate musical forms, tropes and styles that contribute to a positive national image. Last night the art exhibition last night a space for people to discuss the war and its human and political impact.


Ukraine Diaries by Olha Pryymak, Krilova Stelfox Gallery (at 5th Base)

23 Heneage Street (off Brick lane) London E1 5LJ

Ukraine Diaries by Olha Pryymak, Krilova Stelfox Gallery (at 5th Base)

23 Heneage Street (off Brick lane) London E1 5LJ


Meanwhile Laura Hammond has been publishing in the Guardian on Somali cash transfers. Read her article here.http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/20/somalia-remittance-money-transfer-operators-american-banking-regulations-terrorism

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