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Art and Confrontation in the Americas, An International Symposium

Art and Confrontation in the Americas, An International Symposium

Art and Confrontation in the Americas: An International Symposium / Sept. 29 – Oct. 2, 2019 

September 30, 2019

All panels will be held in:
Auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library.

9:30 am. Coffee and Registration.

10:00 am. Opening Remarks by John Unsworth

10:30 am. Panel I: Aesthetics of Confrontation.
Kaitlin M. Murphy– “Creative Interference: Artistic Activism in Times of Crisis.”
Anne Garland Mahler– “Plurality, Mutuality and the Gray Zones: Searching for a Visual Language of Liberation”
Sophie Esch– “The Firearm as Cultural Artifact: Arts & Arms in Latin America”
Eduardo Ledesma– “Glitch as Subversion: Scrambling Official Signals in Contemporary Cuban Art”

12:30 pm. Lunch

2:00 pm. Panel II: Imagining ‘Post-Conflict’ Colombia
Tania Lizarazo– “Postconflict Utopias: Imagining Peace in Chocó, Colombia”
Mathilda Shepard– “A Subtle Form of Protest: Literary Magazines as Subterranean Resistance in Putumayo, Colombia”
Yolanda Sierra León– “¿De qué sirve una taza al proceso de paz de Colombia? A propósito de una serie fotográfica de Juan Manuel Echavarría y Fernando Grisalez”

6:30 pm. Exhibition Opening & Reception
Exhibition: “Silencios”: a photographic essay by Juan Manuel Echavarria.
Nau Hall, South Lawn Commons. 1540 Jefferson Park Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22904


How can contemporary art be at once a mode of confrontation and a vehicle for reconciliation? Is confrontation a necessary component of critical art? How might confrontation convey meaning beyond the immediacy of the work of art and permeate society more broadly?

This symposium and visiting artist initiative address global questions about the relationship between art, politics, violence and peace by engaging with specific national and local contexts. Juan Manuel Echavarría’s participation as a visiting artist will anchor the conversation Colombia, where artists are confronting the many challenges posed by ongoing violence in a supposedly “post-conflict” era. Using this country as a point of departure, we hope to foster conversations about art and social action in the Americas / las Américas, broadly defined. Key points of discussion include the nature of confrontation; memory and public art; art in contentious spaces; and the various ways in which artistic interventions may “ripple into extra-artistic institutions and practices” (Sommer 2014, 7). 

Juan Manuel Echavarría’s artwork has been instrumental in stimulating public conversations about violence in Colombia. Echavarría is internationally known as an artist who uses photography, video and 3-D installations to expose the the consequences of conflict “on the body and the souls of people.” Works by Echavarría, such as Los Desaparecidos (The Disappeared), Bocas de Ceniza (Mouths of Ash) and Requiem N.N., intervene politically in the contradictory space between official peace narratives crafted by urban elites and the violent realities afflicting Colombia’s rural regions. As an activist, Echavarría uses his nonprofit Puntos de Encuentro Foundation to step back as a creative agent and provide other groups a space in which to artistically construct collective memory. One noteworthy project that falls into this category is La guerra que no hemos visto (The War We Have Not Seen), a series of paintings by former combatants from multiple sides of the conflict. Echavarría is an artist committed to visualizing the invisible, rescuing memory and avoiding the normalization of war. Through art, he tries to recompose the dismembered body of his country.

A core objective of the Symposium is to interrogate the intersections between art, civic life and activism. Defining “art” broadly to include film, literature, music, visual culture and performance, this event places scholars, activists and artists from the US and Latin America in dialogue with UVA and the Charlottesville community.

Space is limited.  Please RSVP below.

More information and full schedule - https://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/ArtConfrontation/schedule-2/

Monday, September 30, 2019
9:30am - 7:00pm
Auditorium of Harrison/Small
Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
Registration has closed.

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The UVA Library is committed to hosting library events that are inclusive and welcoming to all. If you need certain accommodations to participate fully in this event, please contact libevents@virginia.edu.

Event Organizer

Debra Guy