Photographs are world-building. They don’t just reflect the world around us: they shape what we know, colour how we think, and impact how we feel. They focus our gaze towards certain events and people – and away from others. The perspectives they take frame our perceptions, direct the questions we might ask, and prompt particular emotional reactions. In both positive and negative ways, photographs – like many other kinds of storytelling – influence how we understand and interact with the world and with each other.https://peace-dr-congo.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/peace-photography/
For us, visualising peace goes well beyond simply ‘picturing’ it: it involves evoking, figuring, engendering and ultimately realising it: narrating peace into (certain ways of) being.
The Visualising Peace project studies many different kinds of peace storytelling, in a wide range of media and genres. From the start, we have been particularly interested in visual politics – the ways in which the images that we consume, create and share influence how we think, feel and behave. Over the course of the project, students like Harris Siderfin, Marios Diakourtis, Otilia Meden and Maddie McCall have researched peace art and worked with different media to represent peace through the visual arts themselves. For a sample of their work, you can explore the following links in our Museum of Peace:
- Peace from Pieces – Harris Siderfin
- Visualising Peace after Forced Displacement – Marios Diakourtis
- Cyber Peace and Artivism with Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox – Otilia Meden
- Fractured Peace: a visual representation – Harris Siderfin
- Drawing a Peace Narrative (Literally) – Maddie McCall
- Inner Peace – Otilia Meden
We have also researched the power of artivism – peace activism through the arts. You can find a range of reflections on artivism (in song, film and other media, not just the visual arts) through this link.
We have been lucky enough to learn directly from award-winning photojournalist Hugh Kinsella Cunningham, who has shared his experienced of photographing peace with us; and in June-July 2023, we hosted an exhibition of his work that showcases the women’s peace movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of this, student Viktor Lopez-Roso researched different aspects of visual politics and strength-based photography, to help prepare our website and exhibition leaflet, which can be downloaded here.