Unraveling and Welding Together: War’s Transformative Influence on Contemporary Mozambican Art — Amy Schwartzott

Amy Schwartzott interrogates one explicit invocation of arts’ transformative powers of remediation. The Christian Council of Mozambique/Conselho Cristão de Moçambique (CCM)’s project, Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas (TAE), finances the disarmament of former Mozambican armed forces and donates the collected firearms to artists, who in turn convert guns into sculptures. The NGO’s sponsorship has radically shifted contemporary aesthetics towards recycled materials and political messages, while also spurring numerous careers. Yet Schwarzott’s in-depth interviews and oral histories spell out more recent repercussions of CCM’s dominance in the Maputo arts scene. As the immediacy of the physical violence has receded into history and the financial status of CCM has become ever more erratic, artists are now left scrambling over increasingly limited materials, clients, and exhibition outlets. CCM’s work was to promote peace and novel genres of plastic arts, but it never attempted to develop an industry of artistic production that would endure without its support. Failures to encourage sustainable local arts patronage risk the erosion of all the benefits transitional programs based around creativity may have built.

The Art of Emergency: Aesthetics and Aid in African Crises
Amy Schwartzott

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