Koken Ergun, I Soldier, 2005
Director/Curator of the Model Niland Seamus Kealy speaks about Signals in the Dark- our new exhibition opening on Saturday 14th March. Seamus will lead a free curator’s tour of the exhibition on Saturday at 5pm, and again on Wed 29th April at 5pm.
Signals in the Dark: Art in the Shadow of War is an art project that I toured in Canada in 2008 at galleries at the University of Toronto and Concordia University in Montreal. It’s mounting in Sligo is the first leg of its European tour. It is also the first curated project I am bringing to The Model in my capacity as Director/Curator.
This exhibition involves fifteen international artists, a film and video programme of twenty works, a publication, and a series of discussions and lectures. However, Signals in the Dark: Art in the Shadow of War takes as its ultimate reference the international alliance of Western nations that has for decades imposed a neo-colonialist imperialism upon the east and third worlds. In its many manifestations, this exhibition also contends that this imposition of imperialistic values and dominance has become wrapped up in the daily experience of many people living in these same western nations, and now permeates into other regions of the world, most often detrimentally.
From the various pornographies of war, to noble or idealized imaginings of current war, to war-embedded reportage, to the participation of the west in fuelling regional wars, to war tourism, and of course to the ongoing state of global war as dictated by Western policy and economic expansion, war is a daily fact of life. Even now that there has been a paradigm-shift in the United States, a network of dominant nation-states, supranational institutions, corporations and other powers still relies on a tradition of utilizing ultimate power and the use of force to perpetuate western hegemony. Although we might see shifts in the near future, and we might all be hopeful of such, the military-industry complex (coined by President Eisenhower in the 1960s) went out of control decades ago and is today inextricably linked to global economic expansionism.
The artworks in this exhibition are concerned with this global war, how it is represented, and how it is imagined. International in focus, the exhibition engages diverse issues and artistic strategies to target the way in which war permeates human activity. Some artworks offer unusual perspectives on sites of war, or trace its effects in unexpected places. Many others take issue with various regimes of representation, using images and language, even mockery, as a means of reflecting upon specific discourses of war, its networks, and its apparatuses. Some of the artists seek to visualize the absurdity, horror, and trauma of war, as well as express outrage that stems from personal experiences of its violence. The exhibition is also punctuated by works that delve into the dark morass of violence. Overall, artists challenge spectacles of war and catastrophe, making visible their intertwinement within a New World Order.
Altogether, this exhibition seeks to uncover and focus on contemporary phenomena of global war and its supporting infrastructures, including forms of knowledge, representation, and behaviour. Where all artworks respond to, take as their source, or embody elements of war, some imagine ways to break through its disastrous perpetuation.
This exhibition also attempts to give voice to the oppressed and to the so-called ‘enemies’ of the west. Artworks in the show proclaim fundamentals of democracy in direct opposition to representations of war and declare opposition to the so-called ‘humanitarian imperialism’ and ongoing ‘states of emergency’ that have justified war today. Within the exhibition, one can also sense a diversity of resistances to social, representational and political hegemonies as well as forms of new media colonialization, all of which are part and parcel of global economic expansionism by the west.
In summation, Signals in the Dark: Art in the Shadow of War is a political exhibition that emphasizes crucial elements of the imagination of artists today that may create new arenas of resistance and, by embracing unsung, unconventional narratives, propose alternative visions of this world and that to come.
Signals in the Dark : Art in the Shadow of War opens at the Model Satellite on Castle Street in Sligo on Saturday 14th March at 5pm and continues until Sunday 3rd May. Admission is free of charge and the exhibition is open Tue- Sun from 12noon.