Make Love Not War

Just holding hands, ‘Make Love Not War!’ Debate, White Night Festival,
9pm 25th October 2008
Participatory activity
Duration: 5 minutes

‘Make Love Not War!’ was conceived and planned by students of the Critical Fine Art Practice course at Brighton University, the Visual Culture Society of Sussex University and artist animateur, Susan Diab. It took place in the Grand Parade gallery at the University of Brighton during the ‘White Night’ festival. ‘White Night’ is a new event in Brighton that celebrates the end of the British summer when the clocks go back. Many venues extend their public licenses to accommodate activities until the early hours.

The event was programmed as a public debate centered on questioning the proposition ‘Make Love Not War!’ and the agency of political discussion within the institution of the university. The event took place amid images of the Iraq and Vietnam wars that made up the exhibition ‘Iraq through the lens of Vietnam,’ one of the Brighton Photo Biennial exhibitions, ‘War of Images, Images of War’ biennial curated by Julian Stallabrass. I initiated a short warm-up exercise to encourage people arriving for the debate to contemplate their presence within the exhibition space alongside the images of war, many of which had not been released in the media.

Words from artist, Susan Diab:

Esther started proceedings by leading a hand-holding activity which ended with half the group outside the gallery on the street and the other half inside the gallery and the two rows of us facing each other through the glass. I found this strangely moving. We were like two factions or like two different species examining each other. And the holding of hands created an instant connection and awareness of our interdependence as people.