Visual Art: Facilitated Conflict Transformation. Approaches and Limitations of the Instrument


  • Olesya Geraschenko National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy



empathy, rehumanization, metaphor, conflict transformation


This article provides an analysis of the art approach towards transformation of conflict, suggests a possible application of the method at different stages of the peace-building process, and grounds a conclusion as for the need to review approaches towards the later problem in Ukraine in terms of inclusion of the artistic approaches in the day-to-day conflict transformation routine.
The topicality of the mentioned problem has a special meaning nowadays, considering that the state of Ukraine is apt for new bouleversements. In the circumstances of internal and external turbulence, a conclusion of a new social contract is crucial, but at the same time the current conflict status prevents both individuals, groups, and government institutions from addressing current social problems rationally and in consolidation with the society.
Visual art resonates with a private or collective experience allowing new means of acceptance as well as perceptual rectification and conceptualization of the experience associated with conflict. Central to the idea of conflict transformation is the need to challenge perceived identities and interests that are viewed as threats. In line with this, John Paul Lederach suggested that the framework of conflict transformation should include all levels of human interaction: the level of personality, the level of interpersonal relations, the structural level, and the cultural level. This article suggests the theoretical and methodological analysis of the conflict transformation through the prism of artistic expressions and characterizes their influence on each level of the conflict.
Art does not have the potential to convert evil into good, therefore one may not shuffle off the burden for the existing social reality on to it. At the same time, art obviously assists a person in overcoming tragic feelings, teaches empathy, catharsizes and releases inner tensions. It is this the cathartic influence that we believe is a phenomenon which is one of the cornerstones of the peace-building potential of art in the post-conflict areas. The transformational approach is about looking and seeing, rather than resolving. And the visual art has a potential to set a creative platform that can both tackle issues that cause polarization and alter social structures and relationship patterns which resulted in the break-down.
The forms of contemporary visual art do not solely reflect the reality. They preserve their role as a sort of particular intervention which provides additional dimensions to the social milestone. Thus an observer receives an impulse to determine his/her own position in the dilemma of the surrounding reality. And such self-awareness is the root of all change. As to the extent that our perception of externals is related to a deeper vision of our own natures, to this exact extent our own actions will be changed. And since peace means a change from unpeaceful to peaceful relations, it is the very source of peace.

Manuscript received 17.03.2020

Author Biography

Olesya Geraschenko, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

doctoral student at the Department of Cultural Studies of the Faculty of Humanities of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). Main research fields: visual culture, peace building, practical aesthetics, modern art, trauma studies


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