IMAG-E-NATION the political & philosophical arts initiative blog

(re)imagining the political and philosophical in the 21st century

The Political & Philosophical Arts Initiative is interested in the ways in which people interact with and compose political and philosophical ideas and actions through the various, diverse media of technology and the arts. Participants in PAI seek to explore the ways in which poetry, literature, music, photography, performance and other creative arts interleave with the political and philosophical life, either as vehicles for criticism, elaboration, theorization, intervention or activism.
The Imag-e-nation blog is a forum for interested parties to share stories, images or other contributions. Contributors range from students and faculty to artists and musicians to professional and casual commentators. Pieces can be short opinions, re-postings of appropriate materials, or original compositions. In addition, the PAI at LUC will make a selection of relevant or provocative news items each week for (re)publication here.


Art and forensics: post-conflict reconstruction towards restorative justice

Rhetoric of disasters abound, but whither courage and vision?  To identify, understand, and repair the myriad damages incurred through man-made catastrophes, the artistic and spatial disciplines are contributing to the science of reconstruction and restoration, towards conflict resolution and cultural reconciliation via art and architecture.

Angkor reconstruction (photo courtesy of World Monuments Fund)

Protection and preservation of cultural heritage, especially sites damaged by armed conflict, compose one of the mandates of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).  To demonstrate the impact of warfare on cultural life, the increasing involvement of heritage experts in post-conflict reconstruction, and the resilience of affected societies, the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO selected some telling shots from Aleppo and Bamiyan to Cairo and Mostar for an outdoor photography exhibition.  For those of us not able to wander through the full-size images on Lange Vijverberg in The Hague by 15 June, catch the digital version here.

Across the North Sea, the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, is taking forensic architecture beyond surveyors' systematic analysis of the structural soundness of buildings.  Attending to the cultural, economic, historical, social, and political function of spatial structures, its Forensic Architecture research project mines architectural evidence through the digital visualisation of destructed zones to examine the role of forensics in the articulation of defensible notions of truth, especially those admissible in courtrooms and collected in crime scenes.  From drone strikes in Afghanistan to tear gas attacks in Palestine, the team at Forensic Architecture combines human and spatial testimony with scientific analysis to recollect loss for more complete closure.  Learn more about the project here and walk through its recent exhibition in Berlin here.

Inside Riga's Corner House

Meandering over to the Baltic Sea, the European Capital of Culture this year has set up one of its most classical and infamous buildings to tell the social, political, and cultural stories of Latvia during Soviet occupation.  As headquarters of the Cheka (the Soviet security service) from 1940 to 1991, Aleksandrs Vanags's stylised creation, known as the Corner House, saw citizens tipping off the secret police, the detained and the soon-to-be-disappeared awaiting their fate, and the KGB carrying out summary executions.  The semi-derelict spaces of the building are open to the public until 19 October, with some rooms furnished with exhibitions themed on the individual's relationship with authority.  Find out more about the Corner House in the context of Riga 2014 here and read about its sobering, inspiring, and restorative effect here.



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