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Artists captures visions of war in gold, books, the night shy

Daniel Joseph Martinez: "Divine Violence"

This piece, a series of gold-painted panels each inscribed with the name of an organization that uses violence to accomplish its goals, turned heads at the 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York City.


Walid Ra'ad: "Notebook Volume 38: Already been in a Lake of Fire" and an untitled series of photographs

Something of a fabulist on a historian's mission, the Lebanese-born Ra'ad has constructed a series of notebooks featuring images of cars of the same models that were used in Lebanese car bombings between 1975 and 1991. The notebooks contain notes scrawled by a fictional character of Ra'ad's own invention named Dr. Fadl Fakhouri about the car's model, the type of explosives used, the number of those killed in each bombing, and other information.

The show also features a series of weathered and scratchy photographs Ra'ad took in 1982, when he was 15, observing the Israeli attack on Beirut with his mother from a hill outside the city. Ra'ad received a degree in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a doctorate in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester.


Mariam Ghani and Chitra Ganesh: "Index of the Disappeared: The Guantanamo Effect"

This installation, in the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library, is part of an ongoing research project to catalog "post- 9/1 1 detentions, deportations, renditions, redactions and other disappearances." This section of the project combines books from the library's collection and other material amassed by Ghani and Ganesh (both based in New York City) that explore military prisons, extraordinary rendition programs, institutionalized torture and efforts by activist groups to uncover that information.


Martha Rosler: "Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful, New Series"

In this collection of intentionally disturbing collages, Rosler updated an artistic tradition she began in the mid-1960s, with a series of collages reacting to the Vietnam War. In the pieces, Rosler uses news photos of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and inserts them into American domestic scenes. The result -- as in one collage that shows two cut-outs of a well-dressed woman holding out a cell phone, while an explosion roils outside her window and two possibly deceased children sit in chairs in the background -- is, to say the least, disconcerting.


Carlos Motta: "Brief History"

This piece consists simply of a large-scale wall mural, measuring some 20-by-8-feet, of soldiers marching and two timelines printed on sheets of newsprint. One is a history of United States military interventions in Latin America since 1946, the other a timeline documenting leftist guerrilla uprisings during roughly the same period. The takeaway is left up to the viewer.


Tom Nicholson: "After action for another library"

This series of photographs documents the systematic destruction of East Timor's libraries and private collections of books by the Indonesian government. It explores issues like the importance of knowledge and the fate of intellectuals in the course of armed conflicts.


Trevor Paglen: "The Other Night Sky"

Covert surveillance and spy satellites are the focus of this exhibition by University of California, Berkeley, geologist and artist Trevor Paglen, though you wouldn't know it simply by looking at his photographs.

"There's a couple of things going on in the photos," Paglen said. "One is the very basic idea of taking something familiar and making it unfamiliar taking an image of the sky, transforming it and saying this is also an image of war or surveillance or secrecy."


Other events: "Unburdened" by Modest Productions, "Contents Under Pressure" by Amy Taravella and David Butler and "Dodging Bullets" by Keir Neuringer.

Toronto-based theater company Modest Productions will present Rehan Ansari's play "Unburdened," Aug. 18, 19 and 20 in the ALT Theatre (255 Great Arrow Ave.). Local artists Taravella and Butler will perform their original war-themed piece "Contents Under Pressure" at the ALT Theatre Aug. 5 to 14. And "Dodging Bullets," a piece of experimental music based on a video score projected onto the wall, will be peformed in CEPA Gallery (617 Main St.) at 8 p.m. July 11.

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