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To lend the dead a voice : second-generation German visual art

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To lend the dead a voice : second-generation German visual art

Kessin, Katja (2003) To lend the dead a voice : second-generation German visual art. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This dissertation is a study of five second-generation German visual artists (i.e., artists born between 1940 and 1970 who are the descendants of Jewish and Gentile Germans of the Third Reich) who deal with the legacy of the Third Reich in their artwork. Informed by contemporary trauma theory, the project traces how the psychological residue inherited from their parents' Third Reich experience has ingrained itself in the social life of contemporary Jews and Germans, finding expression both directly and obliquely in the works of second-generation artists. It is my conviction that the legacy of the Third Reich must be addressed productively in order to accomplish what psychoanalysis has coined the labour of mourning. Because public discourse around World War II and the Holocaust is still subject to a significant reticence, especially among Jews and Germans, alternate means of communication may be found in visual art production. I conducted personal interviews with selected artists in Canada and Germany, namely Brigitte Radecki, Suse Rumland, Eva Brandl, and Bettina Hoffmann, followed by a thorough theoretical analysis of their work and examination of their personal data. As a second-generation German visual artist, I also included my own work in the study. My study establishes that second-generation German visual artists are in a unique position to contribute to a necessary labour of mourning that was bypassed by their parents' generation and that they approach this difficult task in significant ways. As a visual artist, my studio art practice habitually informs my theoretical investigations. Therefore the first part of this thesis consisted of a series of three solo exhibitions ( Speechless, The Grim Reaper , and 2001 Earth Odyssey ), which were exhibited simultaneously in Montreal in August 2002. They addressed issues of trauma and recovery as experienced by one second-generation artist, with the intent of establishing community and opening new venues for discussion.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Kessin, Katja
Pagination:x, 292 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2003
Thesis Supervisor(s):Lerner, Loren
ID Code:2290
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:26
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:25
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