Art, Media and Conflict: Guatemala Post-Genocide


NMDS 5588 / CRN 7734

Instructor: Nitin Sawhney (School of Media Studies)

Thursdays 4:00 - 5:50 pm (offered in Fall 2014)


How do artistic practitioners, designers and media makers engage in moments of conflict and crisis? In what ways do creative and participatory modes of production using art, theater, film, performance and networked digital culture critically interrogate, invoke or transform the memory and traumas of violence, injustice, war, genocide and socio-political struggles? We examine these questions through the work of socially engaged artists and practitioners including Augusto Boal, Wafaa Bilal, Sherin Nishat, and Krzysztof Wodiczko. We will reflect on how such artistic practices, tactics of engagement or antagonistic aesthetics may critically resist, subvert or disrupt prevailing perceptions and social conditions.


In the seminar this year we will focus on emerging creative responses by contemporary artists, indigenous collectives, and civil society to the historic memory, repression and genocide perpetrated in Guatemala. We will examine the work of visual and performance artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Jorge de Leon, Aníbal López, Regina José Galindo, Daniel Hernández-Salazar, and Sergio Ramirez as well as art collectives such as Andén, Canal Cultural, Comunicarte, Kamin and Proyectos Ultravioleta. Students will investigate how such artistic work and practices engage struggles to reclaim historic memory, human rights and narratives of injustice. Critical visual essays and media-based inquiry conducted by students will contribute towards ongoing curatorial research for a new digital media archive and forthcoming exhibitions to be held in New York City and Guatemala in 2015. A follow-up Co-Lab on Curatorial Design and Media Practices offered in the spring will engage students in research, design and implementation of the proposed exhibition and media archive.

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