Terms of Engagement is an exhibition of work by three artists who were deployed to conflict zones as participants in the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP), launched in 2001 to embed artists alongside Canadian troops. Dick Averns, nichola feldman-kiss and Adrian Stimson completed tours in the Middle East, Sudan, and Afghanistan respectively between 2009 and 2011. Since World War I, the Canadian Government has selected artists, such as A. Y. Jackson and Alex Colville, to record the daily operations of the armed forces. But unlike these earlier programs, CFAP does not exhibit or collect the work produced by artists who volunteer for the privileged access it offers. The new arm's-length relationship allows for greater independence of artistic expression.
The artists in Terms of Engagement are conscious of the complex relation of culture to conflict, given their situation as embedded observers whose access to war zones depends upon military hospitality, protection and social networks. Compelled by narratives of genocide, the traumatic legacy of colonialism, and the War on Terror their art offers a critical engagement with Canada's international role as a nation of warriors and peacekeepers.
Support from the Canada Council for the Arts for the development of this website is gratefully acknowledged.
Christine Conley, Curator