Archive | February 2014

Shifting Sands Babanusa to Abyei 1953/54

16 SAD_750-001-589Mobility and community through the ethnographic photography of Ian Cunnison.

12th March 2014 to 1st April 2014 at Palace Green Library, Durham

4rd April to 5th October at The Oriental Museum, Durham

Shifting Sands is an exhibition of rare and beautiful photographs from Sudan taken by the anthropologist Ian Cunnison.  It tells a story of migration, everyday lives and inter-ethnic relationships in late colonial Sudan, as well as offering a vivid glimpse of how anthropological knowledge is gained.

From 1952 to 1955 Cunnison conducted ethnographic research on the Misseriya-Humr, cattle-keeping pastoralists whose annual search for water takes them from the edges of the desert in Kordofan to the lush pastures of Abyei, where Dinka people grow crops and graze their own cattle. Today, Abyei is on border between Sudan and South Sudan; claimed by both states, its future is uncertain.

These images chronicle Cunnison’s growing understanding of Misseriya culture and throw light on the daily life of a pastoralist community in Sudan at the end of British Imperialism. Through portraits and brief biographies of the people Cunnison got to know, this exhibition explores relationships – both within the camp and between members of this camp and Dinka communities in Abyei in the 1950s. Shifting Sands tells many stories: one of slavery and disrupted relationships, but also of interdependence, political negotiation and intermarriage between these two communities. It illustrates a complex history of coercion and cooperation in Sudan and South Sudan’s now bitterly contested borderlands.

Ian Cunnison’s photographs are kept in Durham University’s Sudan Archive. This exhibition coincides with the donation of his papers to the Archive. The Sudan Archive ( is a Designated Collection holding printed material, maps, museum objects, cinefilms and over 50,000 images from Sudan and South Sudan. This exhibition is supported by the Centre for Arts and Visual Culture, University of Durham.


Latining America and the Brown Imaginary


The Visual and Performance Studies Research Group in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures invites you to attend a talk by Dr Claudia Milian (Romance Studies – Duke University). The talk will be introduced by Dr Hernández Adrián (Durham MLAC)

Wednesday 26 February 2014 – 12.00–2.00 pm, ER207, Elvet Riverside, New Elvet


An Installation by
Opening and Talk: 26th of February, 7 – 9pm (Talk 8pm prompt)
Taking place in the Norman Chapel (installation), Tunstall Gallery (reception & drinks) and Tunstall Chapel (talks). Pay bar also available.
Exhibition: 27th of February – 14th of March. 10am – 5pm Daily.
Sponsored by University College SCR and the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures

Film Screening: The Stuart Hall Project

‘The Stuart Hall Project’ (Akomfrah)

Friday, 7 March 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Appleby lecture theatre (GEOGRAPHY, W103)

Trailer: The Stuart Hall Project | BFI.

BFI Jan 2014:
“A founding figure of contemporary cultural studies – and one of the most inspiring voices of the post-war Left – Stuart Hall’s resounding and ongoing influence on British intellectual life commenced soon after he emigrated from Jamaica in 1951. Combining extensive archival imagery – television excerpts, home movies, family photos – with specially filmed material and a personally mixed Miles Davis soundtrack, Akomfrah’s filmmaking approach matches the agility of Hall’s intellect, its intimate play with memory, identity and scholarly impulse traversing the changing historical landscape of the second half of the 20th century.”
Guardian Sept 2013 (Bradshaw):
“John Akomfrah’s film is a tribute to the critic and New Left Review founder Stuart Hall – a montage of existing documentary footage and Hall’s own words and thoughts on film. It has an idealism and high seriousness that people might not immediately associate with the subject Hall pioneered: cultural studies. This is not about, say, postmodern readings of Lady Gaga, but a deeply considered project that reconsiders culture and identity for those excluded from the circles of power through race, gender and class. His is the progressive tradition of Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, unfashionable since Margaret Thatcher dismantled the welfarist consensus. Akomfrah finds a new and quietly moving significance in Hall’s own life story: a man who came from Jamaica – which Hall elegantly calls the “home of hybridity” – and found himself not really at home there, nor in the postwar UK in which he began a brilliant academic career at Oxford. Akomfrah sees Hall as a calm figure who insists on the fundamental topic of equality – yet without getting angry at the surface flashpoints of history. I wondered sometimes at Hall’s view on racial identity: it could well be, as he says, that race is an ideological construct – but does that help victims of racism? Anyway, an absorbing account.”

Institute of Advanced Study: Theme 2015/206: Evidence


The Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures will be leading a sub-theme on Visual Evidence as part of the IAS’s 2015-2016 focus on ‘Evidence’.

This sub-theme takes as its point of departure the ubiquity of visual practices across the university and beyond and sets out to address the ontological and epistemological challenges related to the construction and interpretation of ‘visual evidence’ from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

The subtheme builds upon existing disciplinary literatures on the nature and status of visual evidence and, in particular, on areas of expertise in the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture. They are derived from works such as Ludmilla Jordanova’s (2012) The Look of the Past: Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice, which offers a nuanced and comprehensive account of the use of visual evidence in historical research, as well as related work in the History of Science (Bredekamp, 1995; Daston and Galison, 1992; Kemp, 2002; Latour, 1986) and a wide critical literature on the status of the documentary image in film and photography (Austin 2007; Azoulay 2008; Tagg, 1993; Sekula, 2004), which informs the work of Durham’s Centre for Advanced Photography Studies.

The subtheme seeks to use these disciplinary perspectives as the basis for making connections across the university and beyond. In so doing, it will draw upon and extend James Elkins’s (2007) study on Visual Practices Across the University, in which he makes a strong claim for the necessity of thinking about images beyond the disciplinary confines of Art History or, indeed, he argues, of the new humanities-led field of Visual Studies. His aim is to bring together ‘the humanities’ passion for image theory with the many modest and local practices that constitute image-making throughout the university’ (Elkins 2007: v). His work offers a starting point from which to reflect upon the place of ‘visual knowledge construction’ across the university curriculum.

We now invite contributions to the sub-theme that aim to think through the construction, use and interpretation of visual evidence in areas of current debate, taking up the pressing question of the status of visual evidence across the university and beyond.

The deadline for submission of activities for approval by the IAS is 13th March 2013. We would, therefore, like to receive any expressions of interest in organising workshops or ideas for any other related events by Friday 28 February. Please send these by email to

We will hold a workshop on Wednesday 5th March 2013, 12-2, in the meeting room at the IAS to discuss the subtheme.

For details of IAS procedures, including access to forms for proposing activities, see:

Workshop on Spanish Erotic Cinema

eroticcinema6th March 2014, 16:00 to 18:00, ER207, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Professor Annabel Martin (Dartmouth College, USA)
Professor José Aguado (Dartmouth College, USA)
Professor Sally Faulkner (Exeter University, UK)
Dr Tom Whittaker (Liverpool University, UK)

20-minute presentations followed by round table

Sponsored by:

Matariki Network of Universities
Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth (GRID)
Culture & Difference Research Group (MLAC, Durham)
Visual & Performance Research Group (MLAC, Durham)

Contact for more information about this event.

First Annual Lecture in Religion, Theology and Visual Culture:

lily crucifixVisualizing Christ: image, text and memory in late medieval and early modern England’

(Dr Lucy Wooding, King’s College, London)

12 March 2014, 5:15pm

The Chapel, St Chad’s College, Durham University

‘Call to mind, O sinfull creature, and set before thine eyes Christ crucified.’

In the late medieval church, bodily sight and spiritual sight worked together to comprehend and assimilate religious experience. This lecture will examine the relationship between the bodily eye, and the spiritual eye in the religious culture of the fifteenth century and ask what happened to that relationship during the English Reformation of the sixteenth century. It will argue that historians need a deeper understanding of what it meant to ‘see’ Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, in an age when the boundaries between physical and intellectual modes of experience were as permeable as the boundary between visual media and printed text. It will suggest that Reformation ideas about the use of images were more complicated, imaginative and unexpected than is often appreciated, and remained deeply rooted in the medieval understanding of both vision and memory.

This event is jointly organized by the Department of Theology and Religion and the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures.


Heritage in Focus: Franz von Rohden’s Crucifixion at Ushaw College

rohden1st February 2014 to 28th February 2014

World Heritage Visitor Site Centre, 7 Owengate, Durham DH1 3HB

Opening Hours: 9:30-16:30 (every day) – Free Admission

This exhibition focuses on a rare and largely neglected masterpiece by the Nazarene artist Franz von Rohden (1817-1903) currently preserved at Ushaw College. The painting, which depicts the Crucifixion of Our Lord with the Virgin Mary, St John and Mary Magdalene (1854), exemplifies the artistic creed of the Nazarene school of painting, founded in Rome by a group of dissident German artists in the early nineteenth century and characterised by the radical recourse to the pictorial repertoire of Italian pre-modern masters. While still relatively unknown in England today, the Nazarene movement exerted a tremendous influence on European Romanticism, the Gothic Revival and the British Pre-Raphaelites. The exhibition is organized by Dr Stefano Cracolici (MLaC) under the aegis of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre of Visual Arts and Cultures, the Institute of Advanced Studies and the Centre for Catholic Studies.

Ushaw College presently preserves the largest and most revealing collection of Nazarene art in the country, and, in particular, the largest collection of Rohden’s paintings in the world. The exhibition is Strongly connected to the ‘Rome in the World Project’, led by Dr Cracolici and sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust. The project investigates the role of sacred art in today’s increasing secular society by charting the massive dissemination of devotional artworks from Rome to the world during the long pontificate of Pius IX (1846-78), the last Pope consciously exploiting the arts as powerful vehicles of his political and religious propaganda. The inclusion of the Ushaw artistic collection in the RIW project aims to promote a local heritage site by unravelling its global transnational dimension.

The Rohden’s exhibition illustrates the commitment of the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures (CVAC) to explore and engage with the heritage collection of Durham University and its partner institutions (‘Durham Hidden Heritage Initiative’). Furthermore, the devotional dimension of Rohden’s Crucifixion showcases a particular area of investigation that CVAC has elected among its research priorities – the interplay between religion and visual culture. Organised in collaboration with a veritable consortium of Durham institutions (IMEMS, IAS, CCS, C19S), the exhibition also exemplifies the kind of collaborative works it intends to foster at Durham, by offering students, colleagues and visitors alike a public forum to explore research questions in a thriving multidisciplinary environment.

Contemporary art critics praised Rohden’s art for his special use of light and colours. During the time of the exhibition, the World Heritage Visitor Site Centre will transform itself into a laboratory – Dr Cracolici and Prof Beeby (Chemistry) will conduct a pilot spectrographic analysis of the painting’s colours, through a non-invasive technique already adopted to study the ink of Durham Cathedral’s manuscripts. This would allow the Durham team to verify whether Rohden employed pigments commonly used in the pre-modern period. If confirmed, this would suggest that not only Rohden was inspired by pre-modern models stylistically, but he also tried to revive the pictorial techniques of the great old masters, opening new and exciting vistas on current Nazarene research.

Contact for more information about this event.

Ten Poems from Hafez

Horse HRThe Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures and the Oriental Museum at Durham University have great pleasure in inviting you to view and celebrate Ten Poems from Hafez, an artist’s book by Jila Peacock, which has recently come into the Museum’s Collections.  The artist will speak about her work, and there will be a chance to see all the openings of the book before it returns to its case, open at the poem about the horse – the Chinese year of the horse has just begun.  This will be followed by a reception.  Please visit the artist’s website to view the short animated film based on her work as well as the book itself and information about her:

Thursday 27th February 2014 at the Oriental Museum, Durham, 5.30-7.15  All welcome

The Business of War Photography: Producing and Consuming Images of Conflict

 'Tank Rides at Abingdon Air and County Show, Oxfordshire, 3 May 2009' © Melanie Friend / Impressions Gallery

‘Tank Rides at Abingdon Air and County Show, Oxfordshire, 3 May 2009’ © Melanie Friend / Impressions Gallery

Durham University and Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery, UK
31 July to 1 August 2014

The intersection of photography and war encompasses a broad and complex field. Yet conceptually, “war photography” is often restricted to the activities of photojournalists producing aesthetically compelling images used to humanitarian ends. Scholars have primarily focused on issues of veracity, iconicity, memory, affect and ethics. Insightful though this work is, we lack crucial information and critical reflection on fundamental questions regarding how commercial, tactical and personal factors have shaped the diverse terrain of images arising from all contexts of armed conflict.

The aim of this conference is to examine war photography in this expanded sense—that is, as the result of a nexus of pragmatic and strategic transactions and interactions concerning business, militarism and consumption.

We seek papers that address the ways in which issues of supply and demand have shaped the field of war photography, and how this field has articulated with other forms of industrialised and commercial activity. We invite scholars in a range of disciplines to reflect upon the relevance to war photography of commerce, industry, the military and marketing, as well as the role of workers, publishers, politicians, strategists, purchasers and consumers. Together, we endeavour to develop alternative methodological frameworks for approaching images of armed conflict, and to shift and expand thinking on the concept of war photography.

A range of historical periods, geographical regions and modes of conflict is encouraged. Participants are invited to propose 20-minute papers on topics related to the theme The Business of War Photography, including but not limited to the following:

  • The photographic companies, entrepreneurs and workers serving markets created as a result of war
  • The requirements of military agencies and their involvement in photographic innovation through funding the development of military imaging technology
  • The role of the state in commissioning, shaping and circulating photographic images, and their relationship with foreign and domestic policy and military strategy
  • The marketing of photographic products and services to servicemen/women and civilians during wartime
  • The production and consumption of photographic merchandise (e.g. souvenirs, postcards)
  • The publication and dissemination of war images in the media, and the role of consumers, editors and advertisers in shaping content
  • The market for art photography deploying military imaging techniques or which critiques the role of photography in modern armed conflict

Submission details

We invite proposals of 300 words with a brief biographical note or 1-page CV by 1 March 2014. Applicants will be notified by Friday 14 March. Drafts of papers are due for circulation with co-panellists and chairs by Friday 27 June 2014.

It is envisaged that a selection of papers from the conference will be developed for publication as a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal. The conference organisers are currently discussing this possibility with the Editorial Board of the Journal of War & Culture Studies. Although this will not preclude selection to present at the conference, please state if your proposal has been previously published in any form.

Organisers and partners

The Business of War Photography is co-convened by Dr. Tom Allbeson and Pippa Oldfield, Head of Programme at Impressions Gallery and Doctoral Fellow at Durham University. The conference is presented in association with the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, in partnership with Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery and Impressions Gallery, Bradford.


The conference will be held at Durham University, with opening papers and an evening reception at Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery, with the opportunity to view the photographic exhibition The Home Front by Melanie Friend, an Impressions Gallery Touring Exhibition curated by Pippa Oldfield.

Information for delegates and speakers

Details of delegate fees, venues, and accommodation will be announced by 28 February 2014. Please note that we are unfortunately unable to meet participants’ and speakers’ costs. A limited number of delegate places will be offered to postgraduate attendees at concessionary rates.


Please submit proposals and enquiries to