Call for Work
The Icon Industry:
The Visual Economy of Human Rights
Deadline for Submissions: October 16, 2013
Opening: November 4, 2013
The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University is seeking works of art—in all visual mediums—for a fall exhibit: The Icon Industry: The Visual Economy of Human Rights. The call for work is open to all graduate and undergraduate students.
The term “visual economy” in art is commonly defined as a minimalist approach. But, what happens when this search for simplicity becomes a standard for representation of human rights? Often one iconic image comes to define events, groups or issues, boiling down the complexity into a singular representation that we grab onto as the “right” image. For example, how has the 1984 National Geographic cover image photographed by Steve McCurry of then-refugee Sharbat Gula, known as “the Afghan girl” come to represent—even today in Western culture—a population of Afghan women? It is arguably one of the iconic images of the 20th century, forever referential.
This exhibit asks artists to explore, critique, and/or celebrate the notion of the iconic image in human rights issues as seen in our news media. Artists are encouraged to approach the work through a sense of awareness, examining the role of the image, creation of icons, the role of the image subject as a human rights agent and as a symbol, the use of simplicity in visual communication and/or our image obsession. Repurposing iconic and other images depicting human rights subjects/issues is allowed and encouraged in the debate, but respect must be given to the subject of the image. Further, artists are asked to consider how their work contributes to the continued dialog overall. This exhibit aims to call awareness, and in doing so create a space for reflection on our current state of visual rhetoric, but also look forward to a more engaged public in the ethics of representation.
Submissions and questions should be emailed to:
Caitlin Margaret Kelly
2013-2014 Kenan Graduate Arts Fellow