Our Director Alice Sharp is speaking at the ‘Slow Violence’ symposium today at the University of Hertfordshire.
Violence is customarily conceived as an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space and as erupting into instant sensational visibility. We need, I believe to engage a different kind of violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales. In so doing, we also need to engage the representational, narrative and strategic challenges posed by the relative invisibility of slow violence. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
In a time of mass media, where only the spectacular and immediate draws our attention, disasters that are slow moving and long-term in the making seem to flow past us unnoticed and easy to ignore. Climate change is one such disaster, its escalation a slow violence experienced daily, yet often unremarked, even invisible, in our sea of sensational imagery.Slow Violence is an exhibition and accompanying symposium that takes as its starting point the evocative and provocative title of Rob Nixon’s seminal book of the same name – exploring the many ways in which we can reshape narrative and visual representations of climate change.
This one-day symposium will draw from Nixon’s forensic examination of the long-term effects of environmental damage, by exploring both the visualisation of slow violence and the far-reaching consequences in areas such as health, economics, education and migration.
Slow Violence Exhibition introduces work by eight UK-based artists to reconsider the ubiquitous and prevalent threat of climate change.Working across film, photography, installation and sculpture, the contributing artists challenge us to rethink the prevailing climate change iconography – of melting ice caps or desertification. Rejecting the spectacular and immediate for disasters that are slow moving and long-term, their visual interpretations often draw attention to what is happening closer to home, within our own local environments.
Presented in collaboration with the School of Creative Arts across an exhibition, symposium and other events, Slow Violence takes its name and impetus from Rob Nixon’s seminal book ‘Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor’ (2013). Nixon suggests we reject the idea of violence as explosive or sensational, and instead“engage a different kind of violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive.” Slow Violence acknowledges that the violence of climate change can often be unrecognized, even invisible, incremental, localized, extended, durational.
The Slow Violence exhibition, symposium and events were developed collaboratively by UHGalleries and the Contemporary Art Practice Group, School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire. Both will draw from the work of the major research project Climart whose project coordinator and visual arts lead is filmmaker Samantha Jury – Research Group Leader at the University of Hertfordshire.