A few weeks back I attended a book reading of Louis De Bernieres novel Birds Without Wings (review to follow soon!). The event itself was part of a wider art exhibition curated by lens- based artist Joy Stacey. Stacey’s exhibition Autonomy of Self:Rejecting Violence with the Lens in Former Ottoman Territories is a refreshing and all too overlooked examination of a shared history of empire and conflict, the legacy of which is still very relevant in the present day. The ripple effects of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the imperialist carving up of the Middle East are still felt within these destabilised regions that were doomed from the off, as demarcation lines were drawn irrespective of culture, tribes and indigenous peoples. The wars and conflicts that have arisen as a result are well documented, but what is perhaps less well known is how this history has given rise to an artistic resistance in the absence of political representation. And that’s why for me, Stacey’s exhibition is so vital. The Autonomy of Self helps reclaim a voice for the everyday individuals caught up in the mire of political conflict and it is particularly the voice of women within that framework that interests me most. The exhibition itself contains the works of many female artists and I was especially impressed by the works of Nadia Mounir, Sejla Kameric and Stacey herself. The exhibition will be running at the P21 Gallery in London until the first of November, with a variety of screenings, talks and events. If you are in London, I would strongly recommend checking it out.