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Cambridge Votes Save Artist from Apocalypse

Caroline Jaine's picture

Last night I attended the launch of the 2013 Cambridge International Development Report at Cambridge University.  The report is the work of the Humanitarian Centre – a unique network that is truly cross-sector and collaborative in its approach.
 
So often I attend conferences and networks with homogenous attendees.  Artists network with artists, social entrepreneurs with social entrepreneurs and diplomats with diplomats.  Empathy and feel good scores high at these events, but rarely are people surprised, intrigued or challenged. The Humanitarian Centre puts poverty at its heart – and as a result attracts not just development professionals, but business leaders, academics, policy-makers, and, as it turns out – artists. 
 
To launch the report last night I was asked to take part in a “life raft” debate.   I had no idea what this was at first, but happily joined into the playful scenario.  I am an artist after all. Everyone at the event was a survivor of an apocalypse.   The year was 2015. The building we were in - Newnham College – was the last building standing on a tiny patch of land in the British Isles.  The life raft was heavily laden with food, stocks and blankets and people and was poised to sail away to a new land, where survivors would build a new society from the ground up.  Just as the raft was about to embark, six more survivors were found trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building.  You can guess what comes next.  I was one of the six and I had to argue my way onto the only remaining place on the boat.  I was not there as a communications strategist or international relations expert – instead they asked me to present my case as an artist.

Rwanda's Artful Path Toward Peace: Cultural Industries and Post-Conflict Reconciliation

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

In my last blog, I wrote about a medium that plays a critical role in post-conflict reconciliation: art.  I argued that the cultural industries—film, music, crafts, architecture, and theater, among other art forms—provide important benefits to post-conflict societies; therefore, policies that encourage the development and growth of these industries should be a critical part of a country’s comprehensive post-conflict reconstruction plan. In a further reflection on these points, this blog examines the story of Rwanda, a post-conflict society that is using film, theater, music, and other creative industries in its journey toward reconciliation and rebuilding.

The Art of War: Cultural Policies and Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

Are post-conflict societies that foster, promote, and develop their cultural industries providing important reconciliation benefits to their communities? If so, should governments make cultural policy a vital part of their post-conflict reconstruction plans?

After the traumatic experience of war, a number of policymakers may consider health, security, food, and shelter as the highest priorities without much consideration for culture. However, what many leaders in post-conflict zones often forget is that a conflicted, divided, and wounded population often compromises real prospects for peace and stability. Consequently, I argue that policies that encourage the development and growth of the cultural industries should be a critical part of post-conflict reconciliation efforts.

Watching the News on a Deck-Chair

Caroline Jaine's picture

In July I wrote a piece about Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions.  In it I queried our apparent pre-occupation with the gruesomeness of war, as seen through a media lens.  I took Pakistan as a case study for our obsession with disaster and attempted to apply a Baudrillardian theory to new coverage of terrorism in the country.  The irony is, that this article was picked up by an editor for one of the biggest Pakistani news agencies, and ever since I have been writing a weekly column for them.

Having spent years watching and commenting on the media, I have crossed sides, and although I remain a “blogger” not a “writer”, I feel as if I am on the periphery of the very beast I have long deplored.  My short, but intense time at Dawn has been a real challenge, as I have sought to write in a way that I have advocated journalists to and continue to challenge the mainstream media perceptions from within.

Arts and Minds

Caroline Jaine's picture

My last blog entry back in July was perhaps a sign of things to come.  In it I wrote how the “hearts” bit of so-called “hearts and minds” initiatives was often missing.  I argued that the policy makers viewed arts and culture as a fluffy luxury and often missed their power as a key driver for change.  I was at the time a self-critical policy-maker.
 
So, after 15 years as a diplomat and communications strategist, I have given it all up and embarked on Masters of Fine Arts study in Cambridge, England.  At first it felt indeed like a fluffy luxury, at best a mid-life crisis, but once I entered into what I can only describe as a sublime learning curve, I quickly understood that my art making can easily and effectively incorporate my passions for positive societal discourse, transforming conflict and even diplomacy.  Furthermore my art practice can incorporate a genuinely moving participatory element.