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Ohio University Explores Links Between Art and Terror

ATHENS, OH.- Terror has quickly become a common concern worldwide. From devastating political attacks to smaller, more isolated incidents of aggression, violent forms of terror have flooded the growing stream of 24-hour news outlets. However, while it’s true that terror-filled images have become more and more prevalent in the past eight years, it’s not a new phenomenon.

An interdisciplinary panel including members from the College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and Center for International Studies realized the human fascination with terror in art and thus organized the Arts and Terror International Conference. The conference, which will take place from Friday, May 15 to Sunday, May 17, aims to find out how the proliferative depictions of terror in media affect the population as a whole, as well as the perception of terrible events.

“The conference isn’t unique to terrorism, but it examines its representations,” said Vladimir Marchenkov, assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts. “We realized the concept of terror has been the focus of people of all types for many years and we wanted to look into that. In order to deal with a phenomenon, you need to be able to understand it.”

The conference, which includes seventeen speakers from around the world in five panels, touches on terror in novels, theater, the Internet and new media, film, painting, music and most other media. By covering every artistic base, the conference organizers hope to find a better understanding on how terror affects and is depicted in the various art forms.

Of the numerous speakers, two are artists who deal with representations of terror in day-to-day life. Bob Paris, who will be presenting “The Cluster Project: Strategies and Transmissions,” is a kinetic artist from Virginia Commonwealth’s School of Arts and has previously examined the televised footage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots in his video installation, “Disturbance.”

The other is Tom Hayes, assistant film professor at Ohio University. Hayes has documented troubles in Palestine in his film “People and the Land,” and will be showing an excerpt of another of his works, “Two Blue Lines.”

Both of these artists’ pieces show different aspects of terror, from the social to the political.

“People often automatically go to political terrorism when they hear the word ‘terror.’ The goal of the conference is to set these events in a much broader context. We don’t necessarily want to combat terrorism, we just want to change the perception of it,” said Marchenkov.

Renowned philosopher Arnold Berleant, a professor from Long Island University, will be featured as the keynote speaker. His keynote speech is titled “The Aesthetics of Terrorism and the Negative Sublime.” His work focuses on aesthetic philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty and what does and doesn’t constitute art. A key concept in understanding the power of terror in art.

“The human mind is one of the most difficult things to change, but when people start thinking differently, maybe they’ll start acting differently,” Marchenkov said.

The conference is free for all OHIO undergraduate and graduate students, $50 for non-OHIO graduate students, $60 for OHIO faculty and staff and $100 for non-OHIO faculty.
For the full schedule of events and registration, visit

The conference is sponsored by Ohio University College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics, Center for International Studies, and the Faculty Research Support Program.

Founded in 1804, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, is a pioneering institution of higher education and research offering more than 250 areas of undergraduate study. Ohio University has a main campus population of more than 19,000 that includes students from nearly every state and about 100 nations around the world. OHIO also has five regional campuses. The University offers innovative learning opportunities that combine faculty expertise and state-of-the-art technologies in a welcoming, diverse, academic community.

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