Under Fire at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

exhibition | events | essay (by Dan S. Wang) | links

The Under Fire exhibition at I space and series of events at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are a continuation of the international discussions and publications initiated by artist and writer Jordan Crandall. Under Fire presents a discursive engagement with global militarization and political violence, incorporating perspectives from multiple disciplines to explore the contemporary organization, representation and materialization of war.

EXHIBITION

I Space, Chicago
September 8 - October 7, 2006
featuring: Annie Abrahams/Clément Charmet, An Architektur, deGeuzen, Joy Garnett, Mariam Ghani, Dara Greenwald, Tsila Hassine, Ricardo Miranda-Zuñiga, Hillary Mushkin, Trevor Paglen, Joel Ross, Michael Wilson & xurban

Opening reception: Friday, September 8 5-8:00pm

I space hours are: Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm [closed Sunday-Monday]
I space is the Chicago gallery of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ispace :: 230 west superior, 2nd floor :: chicago, il 60610
Under Fire has been made possible by support from the Illinois Arts Council, the UIUC School of Art & Design and the Krannert Art Museum

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EVENTS

Eyal Weizman: The Politics of Verticality
Time & Location: UIUC Campus, TBA
Israeli architect, activist and scholar Eyal Weizman will discuss his ongoing research into the role of architecture and urban planning in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Weizman is currently the director of Goldsmiths College’s Centre for Research Architecture.
Made possible by the Center for Advanced Study, the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society, Program in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Global Crossroads, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, Dept of Urban and Regional Planning, Dept of Landscape Architecture, Program for the Study of Religion, Program in Asian Law Politics and Society

In War/At War: The Practice of Everyday
October 5 - 29: OPENSOURCE Art in Champaign, IL
OPENSOURCE Art presents an exhibition and series of events that investigates personal relationships with war through the everyday practice, projects, and tactics of individuals.
Opening reception: Thursday, October 5, 7-10pm. For more information visit: opensource.boxwith.com
OPENSOURCE Art is located at 12 E. Washington Champaign, IL 61820.

Critical Art Ensemble: The Marching Plague
October 9, 5:30pm: UIUC, Krannert Art Museum [Room 62]
Steve Kurtz and Lucia Sommer, of the internationally acclaimed artist collective Critical Art Ensemble, will present their new film that takes on the history and current rhetoric of biological warfare.
Made possible by the Krannert Art Museum and the UIUC School of Art & Design

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ESSAY

There is a War Going On.
By the 1980s, the deindustrialized cores of the cities dotting my native American Midwest were so often described as 'bombed out' and resembling a 'war zone' that one had to wonder: why does it seem that everyone but the nation's fathers tells us these are zones of hot conflict? For if there exist momentary and recognizable likenesses between parts of Belfast and parts of Gary, parts of Mogadishu and parts of Detroit, then perhaps the aesthetic commonalities indicate substantive, material underpinnings. I find it reasonable to view these landscapes as the product of the same general phenomenon, war. Once we do, we see that a theater of ongoing armed conflict persists on American soil, in which the citizenry wages a chaotic but low-level war on parts of itself. At the same time it is both mitigated and worsened by a vast and well-funded security apparatus. The American citizenry is armed and waging war at home, neither in an overly organized fashion, nor with much thought given to strategic goals. The incoherence of this unnamed conflict is more evident than ever in the society's overseas wars -- wars that, because of their vast deployments of state-mobilized arms and diplomatic powers, may unleash exponentially greater degrees of turmoil. Anybody with a good sense of how violence permeates American life inside its borders sees the irrationality and mayhem of the American-led War in Iraq without much surprise.

Choose Sides.
Around the world, armed conflicts create an astounding range of horrific effects. Bodies without limbs, mass murder, acute and general environmental devastation, imposed economies of starvation and disease-these are only some of the modern horrors of war. The horrors are also affective and immaterial, and no less consequential. Depression, despair, and post-traumatic disorders are commonly produced by the loss and violence of war. A class of extreme affects, including an ever-proliferating variety of rage and hatreds, thirst for blood and revenge, are not only produced in conditions of armed conflict, but are used as standard weapons by those who learn to channel them. The obvious analysis says that because the entire affective realm is one mediated by symbols, images, and language, which transmits as part knowledge (ideology) and part feeling (aesthetics), artists and cultural workers occupy a special place in the geography of affective conflicts. Whether this is true or not, it must be recognized that a matrix of first world privileges ensures that the temptation to rank the affective realm as the primary terrain of conflict, or to divorce affects from the material world with which they are wholly intertwined, remains strong among cultural workers in the developed world. This is a tendency that must be resisted.

Battle the Feelings.
Considering the material/immaterial terrain of conflict and the ubiquitous but irregular reach of war, we can see that the continuum of conflict intensity, going from entirely unarmed to wholly militarized, maps an uneven distribution of violence rather than a scale of morality. Therefore the question of violence is neither the only, nor the most important, moral problem. We also know that conflicts do not exist as binaries; 'you are either with us, or against us' is the language of fascist states. Armed conflicts always involve more than two mutual antagonists, struggles exist within struggles, factions and stakeholder groups overlap. But every contested situation, no matter how complicated, presents a question to those who consider themselves invested in its outcome: for what and with whom do you stand? Such are the saturation levels of bloodshed that this question of allegiance -- to whom and/or to what, and with what degree of loyalty? -- rather than of violence (is it justified, etc.), is the main moral challenge facing potential partisans. Because each conflict presents its challenge of allegiance differently and according to unique circumstances, potential partisans (i.e., all of us) may find the new geographies of armed conflict and war illuminating. When we map the intersections of war zone affects and military hardware, wartime ideology and security state architecture, consumer surveillance and contractor profiteering, or any other conjoined sets of wartime social practices, we may better calibrate interests and commit to allegiances. This is the urgency embedded in all creative and critical representation of war. - Dan S. Wang 2006
Dan S. Wang is an artist and writer living and working in Chicago.

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LINKS

Under Fire ReBlog
Jordan Crandall
Under Fire Discussin Archive at the Witte de With

The Under Fire exhibition and series of events at UIUC were organized by Ryan Griffis (UIUC, Art & Design)

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