The DSS department hosted Mr. Salman Zaidi, independent development consultant with a background in conflict studies on June 05, 2018. Mr. Zaidi gave a fascinating presentation on Art & Conflict. Mr Zaidi is a graduate of the prestigious SOAS, University of London and has been affiliated with the Jinnah Institute, Islamabad as Deputy Director and head of the Institute’s Strategic Studies Initiative.
Addressing an audience comprising DSS students and faculty, Salman gave an excellent expose regarding how art is important as an instrument or tool to mitigate or reconcile with conflict. Art in any form is a narrative building exercise, and throughout history decision makers have employed art as a means to chronicle their account from their lens. Whether it be the Mughal miniature paintings, Colonial era prints of British conquest, Nazi racial and political propaganda posters, counter-propaganda imagery by the US and West or works of famed artists like Picasso’s famous painting titled the Madness of war, art has been used to appeal to visual sensitivity. Through an impressive slide show, Mr. Zaidi discussed these different art forms and counter narratives with the audience, he dwelt on art as a recorder of history, instrument of state propaganda, resistance through iconography, symbolism, colors, shades and imaging which provides a way out from trauma, a closure needed in order to face the truth, reconcile and coexist through non-violent means. He also examined the Pakistani visual art journey and highlighted the works of Imran Kureshi and Shazia Sikander. The session ended on a very engaged interaction session with the audience.