• Written by Joanna Mendelssohn, Honorary Associate Professor, Art & Design: UNSW Australia. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, UNSW

Before the early 19th century, war was commonly depicted as a heroic venture, while death was both noble and surprisingly bloodless. Then came Goya with his collection of etchings called Disasters of War to show the full horror of what Napoleon inflicted on Spain, during the Peninsular War from 1808 to 1814. The art showed, for the first time, the suffering of individuals in the face of military power.

On today’s episode of Essays on Air - the audio version of The Conversation’s Friday essay series - Conversation intern Sybilla Gross is reading my essay on the transformational power of art in our collective social conscience.

Through countless wars and humanitarian crises, art has always depicted the crimes of our times.

Putting aside whether or not art can actually change the world, there is always an important message it conveys - should we choose to listen. Maybe, that is all we can ask of it.

Today’s episode was recorded and edited by Sybilla Gross. Find us and subscribe in Apple Podcasts, in Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Additional Audio

I Am a Man Who Will Fight for your Honor by Chris Zabriskie

Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson by Chris Zabriskie

Hibernation by Sergey Cheremisinov

The Answer by British Council (film)

Arctic Shooting Training by qubodup

Explosion by Omar Alvadaro

Moans and Screams by qubodup

Chaos and Screams (2013) by Iwan Gabovitch

Modern Day War by Omar Alvarado

Last Post by Benboncan link text

Life in the 30s - McGraw Hill Films

Small clap by kellieskitchen

Crowd waiting Menin Gate 2016 by Stitlown

Gasp 4 by jayfrosting

Cicadas/wind by dobride

Riots (Leipzig) by pillonoise

Screaming Crowd by magician5

Waves crashing by Ali_6868

Female sobbing by Idalize

Burning Air by sergeeo

Human Flow (Trailer) - Amazon Studios, Participant Media and AC Films

Street noise by smellor123

Sitar and Tabla Duo by Bruce Miller

Read more