Published: 11-05-2023 11:47 | Updated: 11-05-2023 11:48

KI Contributes explores the health crisis of war through art

A tank hanging upside-down, being fished out of a lake
One of the pieces in Mkrtich Tonoyan's exhibition Military Art, Art for Defence Photo: Mkrtich Tonoyan

The third installment in the seminar series KI Contributes explored the health crises created by war and armed conflict, through the medium of visual art. An Armenian artist and a Swedish surgeon shared their experiences of war and how humans live through it and try to make sense of their difficult experiences.

KI Contributes is the Centre for Health Crises’ seminar series aims to reach out to share knowledge and experience from health crisis. Previous seminars have addressed effects of extreme heat and health, focusing for example on the development of and use of heat adaptation plans.

On Monday the 8th of May, the seminar series moved to cover broader aspects including the role of art and cultures, and its effect on wellbeing. in war and armed conflict. The seminar left KI’s campus and instead took place at the art gallery Candyland on Södermalm in Stockholm. The event was framed around the ongoing exhibition “Military art, Art for Defence” by Armenian artist Mkrtich Tonoyan. His works includes paintings, installation, performances, and video. In his art, he strives to conceptualise the experience of war. He draws on his own experiences as a soldier, but also on his country’s collective memory of war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Art and culture essential for coping

After an introduction by the artist, a conversation with him and Dr Natalia Stern, a Swedish orthopaedic surgeon recently back from operating war injured in Dnipro, Ukraine followed. She reflected on the importance of culture as a societal glue in wars. Despite the ongoing war, withregular missile attacks in Dnipro,, theatres are open, and people continue to go to concerts and museum. Art and culture are essential elements for resistance and coping in wars and is needed as a healing complementary to medical care for the injured. In the discussions that followed seminar one participant shared his experience from war torn Afghanistan and what it is like to have to flee war.  

The exhibition Military art, Art for Defence is on display at Candyland until the 21st of May 2023. Watch the event space at the Centre for Health Crises's website for future KI Contributes seminars or email the Centre to receive updates and invitations straight to your inbox.