AiW Guest: Nicola Ashmore.
AiW note: this post is the last continuing our AiW series about the project, book, and exhibition Guernica Remakings (University of Brighton, July 31 – August 23). Curated by our Guest Author Dr Nicola Ashmore, the exhibition features visual artworks from across the globe that remake Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica (1937) for political protests, and which resonate with the original intention of the work – “to push back at those in power who choose to act to the detriment of civilians”.
This is the final of three video posts accompanying our introduction to the project. These posts host a series of short documentary films made during the project about the creation of a textile artwork commissioned for Guernica Remakings. Made by members of the Keiskamma Art Project, South Africa (2016-17), the piece is the most recent of KAP’s five remakings to date of Picasso’s iconic painting that tell the story of the impact of HIV/AIDS in the rural Peddie region of the Eastern Cape and challenge the ineffectual response of consecutive South African governments to its crisis. In the films, the makers voice their experience of the making process.
For more information about the Keiskamma Guernicas, their particular translations of Picasso’s painting, and links to the other politically resistant reworkings that the Guernica Remakings exhibition sets them in dialogue with, see Nicola’s first post in our series here. The first of the documentary films associated with this series, which explores the significance of making the first, and largest Keiskamma Guernica (2010) in the context of the regional communities impacted by South African state policies during the HIV/AIDS crisis and the Keiskamma Trust, is here; the second, which extends its exploration through interviews with some of those involved in the workshops, both facilitators and participants, that surrounded the making of the Keiskamma Guernica (2010), can be found here.
The Keiskamma Art Project has remade Picasso’s Guernica as a series of textile artworks a total of five times between 2010 and 2017, with four international commissions, including my own, testifying to its ongoing resonance and power. This third film visits the Keiskamma Art Project’s two sites to interview makers of the 2010 Guernica in each, one in the village of Hamburg and one in Bodiam, 7km apart in the Eastern Cape. Inspired by Picasso’s use of personal iconography, the Keiskamma Guernica uses local imagery and symbolism. Diverse intangible and physical cultural heritages are communicated cross-culturally through the textiles pieces, and the materials and symbols used in the Keiskamma Guernicas. These are distinct both to the makers and the region, influenced by the dominant Xhosa culture and the lived experiences of HIV/AIDS. The interviews in this film show that in the process of making the Keiskamma Guernica the opportunity to simultaneously voice pain and give hope was created, bringing together a community of people developing a shared sense of experience and identity.
Nicola Ashmore’s research interests focus on artistic interventions and curatorial practice, notably the means through which this can leverage collaborative activism. She is currently researching re-makings of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, created collaboratively as a form of political activism. Dr Ashmore has lectured at the University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities since 2007 and continues to investigate and illuminate how meaning is constructed and held in material form to reveal local and global political issues.
The fifth Keiskamma Guernica is displayed as part the Guernica Remakings exhibition in Brighton, UK (31st Jul-23rd Aug 2017), which marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the town of Gernika in Spain, and the exhibition of Picasso’s Guernica at the Exposition Internationale, Paris, May – November 1937. This exhibition demonstrates the transnational relevance of the messages held within the remakings of Guernica from the UK to South Africa, Syria to Canada, and America to Iraq, particularly poignant in a period when the UK is withdrawing from Europe, motivated in part, it seems, by fear around the freedom of movement of ‘others’. Through this testament to the power of Guernica as a political protest, the painting’s humanitarian message is recalled, for solidarity and compassion that transcends borders.
31 July – 23 August 2017
Open Monday to Friday 10AM – 6PM
The videos associated with this series are also available online through the research project website, Guernicaremakings.com, via a dedicated channel on Vimeo (Guernica Remakings), You Tube, and the University of Brighton repository.