The Black Portraits - Making Geographical Connections through Political Communication

Sam Needke, Paul Piercy, Richard Kotter

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David Smith (2000) has taught us that there is a close and complicated interface between geography (as a discipline and a practice), ethics and morality (Lee and Smith, 2004), urging us to consider questions that have haunted the past, are subjects of controversy in the present, and affect the future. Just one of those questions is, does distance diminish responsibility? We are familiar now to thinking about public places (including museums) as sites of political communication (Hyden and Sheckels, 2016), about absence and presence, framing, positioning, and the creation of meaning. Here we report on the interface between political geography and political communication through art, in particular one project and resource hub, The Black Portraits. This exhibition of over twenty portraits, with a web presence and an educational strategy, has two drivers: Aesthetics and Information. The aim is to reach and appeal to a wide audience, to inform and inspire; to improve awareness of governments' denial of human needs; to bear witness through research and story-telling and to be a common platform for human needs champions. Public awareness of the champions' plight and their country's governance will be raised through exhibitions, through print, broadcast, internet exposure and learning programmes. Paintings of the champions in black impasto oil paint is for aesthetic impact and to make their absences the more conspicuous.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-12
JournalGeography Matters
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2016


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