Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War, Imperial War Museum, October 2013 – February 2014

IWM North
Saturday 12 October 2013 – Sunday 23 February 2014

Wars During My Lifetime

How do artists contribute to our perceptions of war and conflict in an age where our understanding is shaped by the media and the internet?

This autumn, in Manchester, IWM presents its first major exhibition of its national collection of contemporary art produced since the First Gulf War.

IWM holds an unrivalled collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art, including some of the most significant artists exploring war and conflict today.

Explore the ways in which art can prompt us to think more deeply about current events, their immediate impact and their long-term implications. Hear from the artists themselves and discover what motivates people to create art about conflict.

Featuring many new and recent acquisitions, Catalyst features over 70 works from this national collection on public display together for the first time. Explore photography, film, sculpture, oil paintings, prints and book works ranging from the highly moving to the humorous, philosophical or outraged.

The exhibition includes work by Steve McQueen, kennardphillipps, Langlands & Bell, Miroslaw Balka, Willie Doherty, Martin John Callanan, Paul Seawright, Ori Gersht, Jananne Al Ani and Edmund Clark.

Admission free
More info
Download the catalogue (PDF)

Wars During My Lifetime 1982-2012
Callanan is an artist with an ongoing interest in the individual’s place within wider systems. In this newspaper he lists, in order, all the wars that have taken place during his lifetime. Since making this work he has made additional editions of the work with updated lists including subsequent conflicts. Through this simple gesture he reinstates the place of the individual within the broader sweep of history, using his own lifetime as a unit with which to measure historical events. On reading the list, some of the conflicts are immediately recognisable, while others have largely passed under the Western media’s radar.

As part of the exhibition, a Town Crier proclaimed Wars During My Lifetime in and around the Museum on 13 October 2013, here is a full audio recording:

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Imperial War Museum North, 13 October 2013

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Wars During My Lifetime, Town Crier

Artist Martin John Callanan, whose work features in IWM North’s latest exhibition, brings a special performance to the museum – featuring a town crier.

Set against the backdrop of Daniel Libeskind’s award-winning building, representing a globe shattered by conflict, expect to be led around the museum while a town crier reads aloud the thought-provoking listings of wars that have occurred during the artist Martin John Callanan’s lifetime. Callanan’s work, Wars During My Lifetime, is a newspaper listing that features in the new exhibition Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War. It is a fascinating – and rapidly expanding – document that makes no comment but brings the list to our attention. This piece is performed live for the first time since its original commission for Whitstable Biennale in 2012.

IWM North, Wars During My Lifetime

IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, M17 1TZ, 3.15pm, Sunday 13 October, free, suitable for all ages.

Part of the Manchester Weekender

Run of the Mill: A Brief History of Contemporary Art Production, Glenn Adamson and Julia Bryan-Wilson

Glenn Adamson and Julia Bryan-Wilson, in the essay Run of the Mill: A Brief History of Contemporary Art Production for Counter-Production part 3 (Generali Foundation) write about Letters 2004-2006:

Art today still negotiates global networks of power, and it does so through systems of production even more widely distributed than the one Vallance put into motion. The current context, of course, is different. As in so many other areas of art-making, artists today have much greater self-awareness when it comes to involving others in their work. Cultural Ties seems frankly naive in comparison with a recent work by the artist Martin John Callanan, entitled Letters 2004–2006. The premise was similar. Callanan sent a typed note to various political and religious leaders, reading only, “I respect your authority” or “When will it end?”. The responses he got are comparable to those Vallance elicited—mainly form letters, as well as a few personalized notes (usually either baffled, intrigued, or both). Yet if Vallance  extended an offer of universal friendship, Callanan instead addressed shadowy realms of power, expecting and getting no adequate reply. This shift from optimism to resignation captures a general change in tone when it comes to artistic production. In today’s hypernetworked society, “cultural ties” are all too evident; connection itself has become a primary mechanism of late capital.

Full essay in PDF

Several Interruptions

To celebrate 15 years of ground breaking research in electronic media, the Slade Centre for Electronic Media in Fine Art (SCEMFA) will hold a 14 week exhibition, showing new works from eight internationally acclaimed artists: who use emerging practices to explore electronic and digital media, as both a source and material.

Martin John Callanan, 24 – 30 January
Thomson & Craighead, 2 – 13 February
Tim Head, 15 – 20 February
Simon Faithfull, 22 February – 6 March
Brighid Lowe, 8 – 13 March
Melanie Jackson, 15 – 20 March
Susan Collins, 23 March – 17 April

An exhibition that revolves every fortnight between each artist, acting as a showcase for the best of contemporary art in the UK, and highlighting the Slade’s pivotal role in the history, development and current research in the many varied forms of electronic media.

SCEMFA is a research group at the Slade School of Fine Art. SCEMFA opened in 1995 and for the past 15 years has provided the opportunity for leading artists to focus on research into Electronic Media and Fine Art, contributing to debate on a national and international level for events, exhibitions, broadcasts, collaborations and online.

Tuesday – Friday: 10 am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday: noon – 5pm
North Lodge, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT

Aerial View

Aerial View, curated by Phuong:

In the Location of I, artist Martin John Callanan gives himself up for public viewing. He enables viewers to find him at any moment in time through a use of a tracking device that pinpoints his exact location through a series of maps. This form of observation allows Callanan to be continuously accessible to everyone. He states in his artist statement that this project allows him to be both physically and virtually sought and accessible. Advances in technology has allowed people to be available and accessible at all times through various means like cell phones and Blackberrys but also allows people to be elusive if needed. Callanan says that because of the Location of I, he loses the ability to hide and thus increases his vulnerability.

Observation has always played a role in the development of art. People or things have been used as subjects of work or as bystanders in a larger piece without ever even knowing they are involved. The participation or unknowingness of people in a piece of work is an interesting aspect that I believe says a lot of how the work coveys itself. For this exhibit, the works that were selected were chosen because of their connections to the idea of being observed or watched. Observation can be done through several different means. Observation can be taken literally where another is physically watching someone or something or it could be more of a conceptual observation.

It is a part of human nature to observe. We are all fascinated by each other and by our surroundings. Whether through physical means or conceptual ideas, the actions of the world intrigues everyone in some shape or form. We all would like to know more about what we see and at times that can be impossible. Whether because of privacy or a lack of connection to learn more about what we see, observation can be unfulfilled. With the use of contemporary art and new media, the depth of observation can be widened and people can learn more about what they desire to see. This could be done in a virtual world or through means that may seem unrealistic but new media allows for an avenue for people to explore this part of their human nature.

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