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22nd January, 2014

The Intimate Poetics of the Post-Cold War Globe in the Artworks of Ian Howard

Event Details

22nd January, 2014
Council Room K2.29 Strand campus

The work of Australian artist Ian Howard comprises large-scale ‘rubbings’ of military fixtures, installations and fragments from across the Cold War and post-Cold War globe. He has worked on fragments of Enola Gay and Polaris, as well as the Berlin Wall and the walls of Derry, Northern Ireland, and on the borders between North and South Korea, and between Israel and Palestine.

More recently Howard has worked collaboratively with official and military artists from China, Vietnam and North Korea, with his own position as artist here inflected unmistakably with a very formal “Australian” representativeness. The complex negotiations that producing such work necessitates with official representatives of local and national governments likewise bring the artist and the viewer into strict but unpredictable relations with the state. Viewed collectively across the past five decades, Howard’s artworks provide a material and very intimate record of the constitutive relationship between borders, meanings, and geographical space, and signal the strangely visible constraints of geographical pasts and presences.

This paper will consider the meticulous engagement these works provide with the visual and haptic dimensions of official sites and commemorations of political margins as mobile markers not only of nations but also of human communities and selves.

Brigitta Olubas is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of New South Wales. She has published widely on Australian literary and visual culture and is currently working on an ARC Discovery-funded study of expatriate author Shirley Hazzard. Recent publications include Shirley Hazzard: Literary Expatriate and Cosmopolitan Humanist (Cambria 2012) and Remembering Patrick White (Rodopi 2010, co-edited with Elizabeth McMahon). In 2000 she curated an exhibition of Australian art, “Moving Cities” which included the work of Ian Howard, at the Australian Embassy in Berlin to mark the opening of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

For more information please visit the Artworks of Ian Howard or email

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