Exhibition focuses on the long shadows cast by the Great War

5 Sep 2018 from 12:00am - 11 Nov 2018 until 12:00am

A fascinating exhibition to be held at the University Gallery during September will highlight lesser-known experiences of the First World War in the Middle East that continue to cast long shadows. Featuring texts, music, and evocative photographs, the exhibition Long Shadows: The Great War, Australia and the Middle East will lead the visitor from Australia to Gallipoli, Asia Minor and Northern Syria, from 1915 to 2018.

The exhibition is a teamwork initiated by ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Hans Lukas Kieser, a historian of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire marked by the First World War. Dr Kate Ariotti, whose research focuses on Australian war history, brings to the exhibition the Australian perspective of Gallipoli. Other members of the preparatory team are Art Curator Gillean Shaw and doctoral student Caroline Schneider.

“This exhibition will have an element of familiarity to most people who have an understanding of Gallipoli. However there will also be some lesser-known elements of history included that some people might find quite confronting, particularly with respect to the legacies of the Middle Eastern conflicts,” Ariotti said.

Associate Professor Kieser says although the war in the Middle East formally ended in 1918, this exhibition demonstrates how its shadows of violence, trauma and conflict continue to resonate today.

“This exhibition creates a more comprehensive understanding of the events at Gallipoli in 1915, along with the events that were also occurring in parallel with the Armenian Genocide and fall of the Ottoman Empire,” Associate Professor Kieser said.

“Most Australians are familiar with Gallipoli and the Anzac story. The Armenian Genocide is less known, yet it had implications that are still being felt today in the Middle East. The Armenian genocide was part of a violent demographic engineering in the last decade of the Ottoman Empire in 1912-1922, when at first Balkan Muslims, then, on a multiplied scale, Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians in Asia Minor and Syria were targeted,” Associate Professor Kiesersaid.

“They became victims of hate speech, mob violence, rape, ethnic cleansing, mass killing and enslavement. We cannot understand the rise and patterns of today’s ‘Islamic State’ and the Yezidi genocide without taking into account the much bigger mass crimes perpetuated a hundred years ago in the same region, also often in the name of Islam and never coped with,” Kieser states.

Stretching from the First World War, through the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire to more contemporary Middle Eastern conflicts, the exhibition will feature a time line that will shows how the differing stories of the Anzacs and Armenian genocide survivors intersect.

“Visitors can expect to see range of intriguing photos, maps, texts and artefacts from throughout the period. A series of talks are also planned featuring specialist historians speaking to specific elements covered within the exhibition,” Associate Professor Kieser said.

“The exhibition will bring a new level of understanding to a region that has been and continues to be so crucial for global politics and Australian foreign policy,” he said. “Yes it may be confronting, but that is the purpose of the exhibition, to open new horizons and reveal those points in history that are not enough known,” Kieser concluded.

  • University Gallery, Callaghan
  • hanslukas.kieser@newcastle.edu.au

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