Visual Peace

Chair: Robert Schwartzwald

From Goya’s “The Disasters of War” (1810-1820) to Otto Dix’s series of fifty etchings “The War” (1924), some of the most powerful claims for peace in the visual arts have been set forth à rebours : here, the claims for peace are inferred through representations of the demonstrated consequences of war, especially those which last long beyond the actual conflict: destitution, homelessness, hunger, disease, physical disfigurement, “shell shock” or what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. On the other hand, the graphic and filmic styles associated with positive movements for peace – from the World Peace Congresses of the Stalinist period to the Flower Power visuals of the 1960s to photo books like The Family of Man deploy strategies that often are quickly shaded by nostalgia and a wistful yearning for the recovery of a  “lost” innocence. This panel considers whether visual interventions for peace, characterized by presence and representation, and focusing on  warless future can compete on an equal footing with negatively-charged,  metonymic evocations of the destructive power of war that draw our attention to its consequences in the present?

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