This project, exploring the dynamic material interplay between archives and contested landscapes, was initiated by Kelcy Davenport and Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab as part of their ongoing art-geology research collaboration.  The project was introduced via a symposium event in Cambridge on 22nd March 2018.  A related exhibition comprising of creative responses to the theme, by ‘artists’ and ‘non-artists’ inclusively, took place in Cambridge from 22nd – 28th October 2018, as part of the Festival of Ideas.

Kelcy Davenport is an artist, associate lecturer and PhD candidate in fine art at the Cambridge School of Art, supervised by David Ryan and Simon Payne. Her research draws on the political philosophy of Hardt & Negri, critical theory, and critical pedagogy, to explore the relationship between art, research, and the common. In doing so, developing ideas about how art functions as resistance today, in the production of knowledge.

Nawrast Sabah Abd Alwahab is a geologist and sedimentology lecturer at the University of Basrah, who recently undertook a visiting scholarship to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, sponsored by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq. Her current research is focused on the stratigraphy and climate change record of the Mesopotamian marshland and certain archaeological sites, during the Quaternary Period, with a special interest in moving beyond specific scientific paradigms to philosophical enquiry.

Kelcy and Nawrast’s collaboration was originally inspired by the autobiographical work of artist, Shaima al-Sitrawi, based on her childhood experience of living in Iraq during the Gulf War.  Shaima is Nawrast’s cousin and studied art at Luton University with Kelcy where they set up a student branch of Stop the War together in 2004.

With thanks to the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, Anglia Ruskin University Arts Council, StoryLab Research Institute and the Cambridge School of Art for generous financial support.

*Header image courtesy of Artists Activists.