In many ways war has become part of our everyday lives. We watch more television and are online more than ever before. Images and information is flowing around us, and we are witnessing it all from our living rooms. Meanwhile, the country we live in is at war. However, war seems strangely unreal to many people.

On the 20th of March 2010 seven years have passed since the invasion of Iraq. At the same time the question on whether or not a trial on the legality of the war should be carried out is settled in High Court in Denmark at the beginning of March. Therefore we have chosen to curate an exhibition on war.

The exhibition takes its starting point in the Western world’s seemingly distant and abstract conflicts in an attempt to make them more present to the public. First and foremost this reflects the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From here we have broadened our perspective to include other conflicts, which are related to the war on terror as well as works, which are about war in general. We have also chosen to include the Balkan Wars in the 1990’s, as they took place on European soil and therefore in a much more concrete way have direct relevance to our daily lives.

We have urged artists from all over the world, established as well as students, to apply with works and projects, which relate to the topic war. In this way we have gained insight into ways of practice, which we did not know of beforehand, giving us the opportunity to put together an international exhibition that sheds light on the subject from an array of angles.

The art works at CRW are subject to a very long tradition of art, which have war as their turning point. Here we would like to sketch two schools, which are important in relation to the perspectives, which are included in the exhibition. The schools are based on Laura Brandon’s book Art and War from 2007. First and foremost there is a very long tradition for depicting acts of war. Both univocally national and heroic as well as in a more documentary style of visual eyewitness stories from the front. Another trend, which has grown far and wide with the Vietnam War, is an anti-war art. It is often very loaded with pathos and renders its concern about war very clearly.

Our focus has been to put together an exhibition, which is analytically critical and reflective. At CRW there are not any simplified protests, no pathos, hardly any depiction of acts of war. You could say that the works do not believe in a critical position within more traditional depictions of war. CRW wants to show other ways of creating critical reflection, which reflects the regimes of imagery we live in. Not through in a naïve way trying to fight the images, but through utilizing the visual, aesthetic, narrative and emotional opportunities imagery opens to alternative, critical, more direct understanding of war and its monstrous and complicated essence.

We hope that we through this exhibition can make distant and abstract conflicts more present to the public and open up to reflections, emotions and thoughts.

We are very happy to be able to welcome you to the exhibition CRW – Contemporary Reflections on War.

Yours sincerely,

Malene Dam and Julie Galsbo, organizers.

Translation by Rasmus Møller Jensen.