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Trauma, Oppression and Art: When Adversity Inspires Creativity

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Published on Jan 27, 2012

From the Spanish artist Francisco Goya's exposure of the "Disasters of War" in 85 prints after the Napoleonic invasions, to the South African William Kentridge's conflagration of animated drawing and storytelling to probe his conflicted identity as white man and artist during Apartheid and after, artists through the centuries have turned to art-making in times of war, conflict, oppression and trauma.

Join a global panel of artists formed by dire events in far-flung corners of the globe who honor, replay, deride or exorcise their histories through their work. How important is the art making itself to their emotional or even physical survival? How did they come to recognize the roots of their subjects and evolve their form of expression? What role does the art-making play in their lives? Why do some artists find it necessary constantly to revisit the injury and others to probe, dissect or transcend it. What is the role of humor in art rooted in an oppressive past? The artists share their stories, screen their work and address the provocative questions, in particular: can art make a difference?

Alexander Melamid, Wangechi Mutu, Shirin Neshat, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Amei Wallach

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