This week as a nod to the close ties and differences between Iraq and Iran as viewed from an arts perspective, we interview Dr. Jonathan Harris, Director of Research at Winchester School of Art. the Winchester School host a two day conference on Iran and Iraq in London this June with online publishers Ibraaz. Global Futures Forum for 2013, Ten years on from the invasion of Iraq presents a series of scholars, curators, artists, designers and critics examining issues around viewing Iranian and Iraqi art today, and what art tells us, if anything about everyday life in Iraq and Iran. The first question of course is how relative is art to everyday life, beyond which there are further knots to untangle such as issues of class vis a vis everyday life, colonialist thinking and media distortion, plus age old questions such as ‘who finally benefits from the work of art’, which has never really been answered and works on the presumption that art must provide anything at all, instead of just being what it is for its own sake. Our thoughts are, art might not even benefit the artist? However if it does not sell and it is not cathartic or in some way – bringing the artist close to any kind of truth in their own work – then perhaps the art can benefit even one onlooker who finds pleasure or clarity or is stimulated to think by viewing it and then it has achieved something. But, thinking of certain works in the Iraqi collateral event at Venice Biennial this year, is it art if it is not intended as art by the creator and no one sees it?
In this interview Dr. Harris defines his intention to attract a crowd local to Earls Court’s Mosaic Rooms. He may not be able to escape the mailing-list generated crowd this time, yet the mix of cross disciplinary-practitioners and commerce promises a cross-dialogue that may well prove fruitful.
Dr. Harrisis professor in Global Art & Design Studies as well as Director of Research at Winchester School of art. In this episode of Six Pillars he explains the thinking behind the programming of the two-day symposium and the Winchester School of Art’s involvement. The two day symposium will be chaired by Anthony Downey of Ibraaz, feature journalist Rageh Omar, a performance by The Freaks (Lebanon) and past Six Pillars guests Slavs and Tattars for a unique performance.