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Seminar Series - Part I / Civil War

New Reschedule Date: Tuesday 27 March 2018 / Lecture Room IMMA

Seminar Series Part 1:  Civil War – A Historical & Contemporary Perspective 

Exploring the continuum of war and the complexities of civil conflict from past to present, shared and diverging histories will be examined by Giath Taha (Documentary Photographer, Syria); Paddy Woodworth (Author, Journalist, Irish Times); Colm Laighneach (Member of Hidden Voices, an international conflict resolution body based in Ireland). Chaired by Susan McKay ( Author and Journalist), the Seminar more broadly calls to question What Can Art do in a War?

In the broadest sense, a civil war is a war between citizens of the same country. Since the 20th Century we have witnessed a peak in civil conflict, displacement and foreign intervention. In the 21st Century we increasingly view ourselves as part of a global community, where any world war is a civil war, and any civil war affects the world.

Understanding the cause and effects of civil conflict on local and global communities has therefore become increasingly important, while at the same time becoming even more complex to decipher within mass news and media reportage. 

Seminar participants reflect on past accounts of civil wars, in particular, Spain and Ireland, to consider our global response to recent civil conflict verses its relationship to local testimony and experience. To open discussion, photojournalist - Giath Taha will revisit George Orwell’s classic memoir on war and politics - Homage to Catalonia - as the context to discuss his photography project, Homage to Aleppo.

Programmed in the context of IMMA exhibition Brian Maguire, War Changes Its Address: The Aleppo Paintings, in which to explore a cross discipline of perspectives. This Seminar is free and is part 1 of two part series. The conversation continues on Friday 27 April with a Seminar on Bearing Witness – Creative & Critical Practice on the Frontline, chaired by Lara Marlowe. See details here.      
Further Information

Susan McKay
is a journalist and author from Derry. She is well known as a commentator on Irish radio and television. Her books on social justice issues and the North have been critically acclaimed. She researched, narrated and produced “Inez – A Challenging Woman” which won best short documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2013 and her journalism has won several major awards. She has worked extensively with victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland, as a writer, facilitator and archivist. She is interested in stories about the aftermath of violence, the way that lives are changed utterly by events and the ways in which individuals, families and communities have to undergo transformational struggles in order to survive. Remarkably, these efforts often go unnoticed by other people. A former Northern Editor of the Sunday Tribune, and columnist with the Irish News, her work has been widely anthologised, including in the Penguin Book of Great Irish Reportage (Penguin, 2014) and the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. Susan’s books include “Bear in Mind These Dead” (Faber, 2007), “Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People” (Blackstaff, 2000) and “Sophia’s Story” (Gill and MacMillan, 1998). She writes for a range of publications including the Irish Times and the London Review of Books. “After the Music – the Daughters’ Story” is her first radio documentary.


Giath Taha is a Syrian freelance Documentary Photographer based in Amsterdam. Born in 1982, he studied applied arts and photography in Damascus in 2006 and started his career as a documentary photographer in 2017. Before the war he worked for many local newspapers in Syria such as the BALADNA daily newspaper. In recent years he has worked for NGOs and international news agencies including Reuters. Working in particular on the Syrian war Taha has had his photographs published in many blogs and newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post to name but a few.

Paddy Woodworth is an author, journalist, lecturer, specialist tour guide and editor. His most recent books include: Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century (University of Chicago Press, 2013, 2015 paperback), a worldwide assessment of ecological restoration as a conservation strategy and Dirty War, Clean Hands: ETA, the GAL and Spanish Democracy (Yale University Press, 2002), an account of the impact on Spanish institutions and Basque society of the state terrorist strategy espoused by Spanish government ministers and generals to fight the Basque terrorist group ETA in the 1980s. Previously Woodworth was a staff journalist at The Irish Times, first as arts editor and then as assistant foreign desk editor, from 1988-2002, and currently writes a fortnightly feature on The Irish Times Environment Page. He has contributed to the International Herald Tribune, Vanity Fair, The Scientist, The Sunday Times, Ecological Restoration, The World Policy Journal and BBC Wildlife and many other publications. He has broadcast for RTE, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and other international radio and TV networks. Visit his website here

Colm Laighneach is a Member of Hidden Voices, an international conflict resolution body based in Ireland. Colm works in the community development sector and is employed by Clones FRC on a part-time basis; mainly engaged in supporting families and individuals in the local community with welfare rights and advocacy.  Other key areas of his work are supporting Clones Men’s Shed and local resident’s groups.  Colm is trained in providing parenting supports and works in partnership with other local agencies to deliver programmes in and around Clones.

About the Exhibition
This new exhibition brings together Brian Maguire’s latest body of work, resulting from a visit to Syria in 2017. It is shown in the context of earlier work made in response to the refugee crises hitting Europe’s shores as a result of the Syrian conflict. The Aleppo Paintings document the ruined buildings of the city, offering a visceral and stark insight into the physical consequences of war and the international arms trade that fuels all conflict. As with all his work, Maguire’s work is informed by first-hand experience of the city of Aleppo and its people and is fuelled by a desire to see beyond the news coverage to gain a personal insight into the reality of the situation.  Maguire’s paintings bear stark testament to the human suffering implicit in his depiction of the building fragments left after the bombardment, underlining the need for justice.  Brian Maguire’s work emerges from social and political situations and a deep engagement with a particular place or group of people. He approaches painting as a gesture of solidarity and has undertaken projects in prisons, women’s shelters and psychiatric institutions.

Read more on here 

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