Monday, January 14, 2013

Jan Jordaan represents AFH at the Art and Social Justice Conference in Spain 2012
Nomfundo Mgabadeli
Guernica Picasso

Art for Humanity director Jan Jordaan attended the 3rd annual Art and Social Justice Conference which took place in Spain this year. The conference fell over a 3 day period in early October at the Gernika Peace Museum in Gernika-Lumo.  It was organised by the Gernika Peace Museum, Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Centre and the Culture House of Gernika.  In collaboration with Art for Humanity, Durban University of Technology and University of Nicosia where the previous conferences were hosted in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

The theme for this year’s conference was Arts, Crisis and Social Transformation, the choice of Gernika as a host was symbolic as this year signals the 75th anniversary of the bombing of “Guernica” as well as the “creation of Picasso’s masterpiece” of the same name.  According to the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Centre, the theme was brought about by the current crisis in western societies, where largely a result of the greed of the banking system and different forms of political corruption and mismanagement.  These issues are not only central to Human Rights as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but recurring themes central to the arts in general.

“The conference was attended by 30 delegates from Europe, USA, Africa and Eastern Europe. The conference as the previous conference underscores the importance of the art in promoting social transformation and the arts being a primary form of cultural expression proves through the many examples presented at the conference to be an effective medium in promoting social transformation.” Jan Jordaan said.

The delegates engaged in presentations of specific papers, workshops by arts practitioner, circle discussions at the end of each day and performances and displays of artistic work. Although there was no time for sightseeing as their day would run up to 9pm, delegates got a chance between shuttle drives from Gernika and Bilbao to see the beautiful landscape. 

“I didn’t get to see a lot of Spain but the conference one does get to network; it was brilliant in terms of meeting cultural activists, academics and artists sharing a common interest and common concern.” Jan continued to say.

Although the initiatives concerning art and social justice are “uncoordinated and often not recognised by governments across the globe, it has proved to be a sustainable and effective medium of social activism”, which was a clear outcome at the conference. Artists have and always will continue to “play a key role in transforming people, societies, and cultures simply by reflecting on what is going on around them”.

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