New York artist and activist Paul Chan spent a month in Iraq with Kathy Kelly and the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated organization Voices in the Wilderness immediately prior to the start of the war. He speaks with her about their work, her recent visits to the Middle East, and the Poetics of nonviolence.
About Paul Chan
Paul Chan is an artist in New York. Working in a variety of mediums, from video to installation to drawing, Chan has achieved much acclaim for both his installations and his digital projections that blend a novel drawing and animating style with subtle philosophical reflections on politics, war, and life in the present tense. Chan's work has been exhibited worldwide for the past several years and was last seen in New York at The 2006 Whitney Biennial. Chan has worked with the aid group Voices in the Wilderness (with whom he spent an unsanctioned month in Iraq) and designed The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention (an agitprop map of New York City for use by protesters and delegates in 2004). Yet while such activities may not appear to directly inform his art practice, they tie into his general insistence on "hallucinating" different relationships in contemporary society: between the sacred and the secular, the high and the low, the poetic and the pornographic, drawing comparisons to such artists Chris Marker and William Kentridge.
About Kathy Kelly
Kathy Kelly is Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV). Kathy's work focuses upon ending the war in Iraq, in both its military and economic forms. Long active in peace team efforts, Kathy participated in the Gulf Peace Team (1991); Bosnia (1992-93); and Haiti (1994). In 1996, she co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign of civil disobedience to challenge U.S.-U.N. economic sanctions imposed against Iraq. Kathy traveled over 20 times to Iraq to build personal relationships and to challenge U.S. policies (over 70 VITW delegations traveled to Iraq from 1996 to 2003). In the summer of 2005, VITW was fined $20,000 for bringing medicine to Iraq without permission of the U.S. government (a fine which VITW refused to pay).