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Art of Un-War poster, 2023 (Image courtesy of Maria Niro)
Art of Un-War poster, 2023 (Image courtesy of Maria Niro)

March 20, 2023, 6:00 pm8:00 pm

ACT Bartos Theater
MIT Building E15-070
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA

As part of ACT Spring 2023 events, Maria Niro’s award-winning documentary The Art of Un-War will be screened in Bartos Theater. This event, hosted by ACT Professor Gediminas Urbonas, is featuring a discussion between director Maria Niro, artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, and respondents Natalie Bell (MIT List), Hector R. Membreno-Canales (ACT).

The Art of Un-War is an award-winning documentary directed by Maria Niro. The film follows internationally acclaimed artist Krzysztof Wodiczko who has devoted his career to work that gives prominence to the inhumanity of war imploring us to dismantle and change our perceptions of human conflict so we can drive toward peace—a concept he calls “Un-War.” Wodiczko’s work, known for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments throughout the world, deals with trauma and healing while honoring people’s stories of pain, loss, and perseverance. We witness Wodiczko’s social practice that combines art and technology as critical design practices to highlight marginal social communities and address cultural issues that are often overlooked. Delving into Wodiczko’s extensive array of stirring installations as well as his own past traumas—which include his having been born in 1943 Warsaw, two days before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as well as growing up in a Communist Poland still feeling the tragic aftereffects of World War II—the film also features interviews with fellow artists activists in its pursuit of the heart and soul of a major artist whose work will, unfortunately, never be irrelevant.

The event is free and open to the public, but seats are limited, please register HERE

Maria Niro

Maria Niro is an artist and filmmaker who creates films that engage and inspire viewers to create social change. Her moving image work includes long form documentary, and short art films. Her award-winning documentary The Art of Un-War (2022) which chronicles the life and political work of the internationally acclaimed artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has been broadcasted on TV Ontario (TVO) and has screened at festivals and museums worldwide including the New York Jewish Film Festival, Artecinema, FilmFest DC, Newport Beach Film Festivals, the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center, Teatro San Carlo, National Gallery of Art in DC, and Harvard Art Museums, among others. Niro’s short art films have been shown at the Whitechapel Gallery, Microscope Gallery, Queens Museum, Anthology Film Archives, and Exit Art Gallery, and more. Her work has been recognized and supported by the New York State Council on the Arts, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Polish Cultural Institute NY, the Puffin Foundation, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul S Korea, and City Artists Corps Grant, among others. Niro, based in New York City, is a member of New Day FIlms, a filmmaker owned and run distribution company providing social issue documentaries to educators since 1971.

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Krzysztof Wodiczko combines media, design, and technology to disrupt our traditional understanding of the functions of public space and architecture. He is renowned for his large-scale projections on monuments and institutional facades, which explore the relationships between communities, history, and public space. Over the past five decades, Wodiczko has realized over 90 site-specific projections in over 20 countries. Wodiczko is also known for interactive instruments and vehicles that empower marginalized individuals and communities and give light to societal injustices. Over the years, Wodiczko’s projections have evolved from still slides to live and recorded videos utilizing individual faces, voices, and narratives.

Wodiczko’s work has been presented at Documenta, Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, Montreal Biennale, Yokohama Triennial, and many other international art exhibitions and festivals. He received the 4th Hiroshima Art Prize for his contribution as an “artist to world peace.” He has held retrospective exhibitions at Walker Art Center, Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, and other museums and art centers. Wodiczko is the author of Critical Vehicles (MIT Press), City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial, The Abolition of War, The Transformative Avant-Garde, and other books including an extensive monograph “Krzysztof Wodiczko”, published by Black Dog Press, London. His work is presented in the PBS television series Art in the Twenty-First Century. He is the subject of the award-winning documentary “Krzysztof Wodiczko: The Art of Un-War”, directed by Maria Niro.

Wodiczko is a former director of the Interrogative Design Group at MIT, and presently a professor emeritus of Art, Design, and the Public Domain at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He received his Ph.D. in 2022, in Visual Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland.

Natalie Bell

Natalie Bell is curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, where she recently organized solo exhibitions of Leslie Thornton and Sreshta Rit Premnath, and is preparing solo exhibitions of Matthew Angelo Harrison, and Raymond Boisjoly. She was previously Associate Curator at the New Museum, New York, where from 2013 to 2019 she curated and co-curated the solo exhibitions of Jonathas de Andrade (2017), Anna Boghiguian (2018), Elaine Cameron-Weir (2017), Mariana Castillo-Deball (2019), Aslı Çavuşoğlu (2018), Dan Herschlein (2018), Lubaina Himid (2019), Marguerite Humeau (2018), Kahlil Joseph (2017), Hiwa K (2018), Albert Oehlen (2015), Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (2018), Barbara Rossi (2015), Anri Sala (2016), Andra Ursuta (2016), Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (2017), and others. She also co-curated several major group exhibitions at the New Museum, including Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon (2017); The Keeper (2016), and Here and Elsewhere (2014).

Hector R. Membreno-Canales

Hector R. Membreno-Canales was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (1988) and grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He served more than a decade as a US Army Photographer working in Iraq, El Salvador, Poland and more. Hector used the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill to study Photography at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and earned his MFA from the Dept. of Art & Art History at Hunter College, The City University of New York. Hector’s work explores official histories, American patriotism, and the Military-Industrial Complex. His photographs have been exhibited at Triennale der Photographie Hamburg, Osnova Gallery Moscow (2016), Aperture Foundation (2017), The Delaware Contemporary Museum of Art (2017), and ATHICA Athens Institute of Contemporary Art (2019). His work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Columbia Journalism Review, NPR, CNN, and L’Oeil de la Photographie.