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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Art and Social Justice/ ‘the Art of Social Justice’

Durban University of Technology and Art for Humanity will present its first international conference – a three day conference on Art and Social Justice from March 21 to 24 at the DUT Ritson Road Hotel School, Conference Centre.

The conference will be hosted by the Durban University of Technology and will be held in conjunction with the Dialogue among Civilizations exhibition opening on March 21, 2010, at the Durban Art Gallery.

The 2010 Art and Social Justice Conference will address a range of critically important issues and themes relating to the arts in promoting human rights and social justice in society. Plenary speakers will include leading thinkers and practitioners in the arts, as well as health, justice, education etc. Paper, workshop and colloquium presenters will be drawn from researchers and practitioners in all fields of artistic engagement. The objective of the conference is to serve as a platform for art practitioners and organizations to share experiences drawn from a variety of international contexts to discuss mutual concerns and find solutions to commonly experienced challenges.

The conference aims to arrive at a concrete set of resolutions which can be developed into a policy document about the role of the arts in effecting social change, cultural development and equity. In line with the hosting institution’s commitment to applied research, the conference particularly calls for papers that explore theoretical avenues to the credible evaluation of public art and art projects directed at advocacy. This dual approach, which will be evident throughout the conference, is intended to bridge a crucial gap which frequently divides scholars and practitioners in the arts.

This conference and the Dialogue among Civilisations exhibition have been granted UNESCO Patronage. UNESCO Director General Mr. Koichiro Matsuura corroborates his endorsements to the projects by stating: "This major event ... involving the collaboration between artists and poets ... is consistent with UNESCO’s principle objective as regards the promotion of intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity. It will no doubt contribute to emphasizing the unique role of the arts as a means of dialogue, communication and understanding ... giving its aim of promoting ethical values through artistic expression and creativity..."

The Dialogue among Civilizations project is a unique print portfolio that juxtaposes responses from visual artists and poets on issues of social justice. The project involves collaboration between artists and poets from Africa, Europe, Americas, Asia and Australasia on the theme of identity, land, object and belief. The art and poetry resulting from the project will be employed in a public advocacy campaign against racism and xenophobia, highlighting especially the plight of refugees.

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