Oliveira, Claudia (2011) Fathoming the Unfathomable: Gertrude Kearns and the Visual Representation of the Genocide in Rwanda. Masters thesis, Concordia University.
- Accepted Version
The visual representation of genocide demands a response to many thought-provoking questions. For instance, how should one consider the use of mass murder as the subject for a work of art? How does one confront the ethical dilemma of aestheticism in artworks that depict human suffering? How can an artist avoid exploiting its human subject or sensationalizing genocide?
The following text aims to consider the ethics of visual representation of genocide and apply this theoretical framework in the consideration of a series of works, UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda by artist Gertrude Kearns, which concerns the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Through her use of camouflage-patterned nylon canvas, Kearns has produced a powerful yet subdued depiction of the atrocities committed by the génocidaires. This text suggests that the artist has incorporated former Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire in her work in order to, in part bypass the challenges of secondary witnessing and encourage viewer identification and projection; a notion based on Marianne Hirsch’s theory of ‘Postmemory’. Drawing from various email exchanges, an extensive interview with the artist and research material (Holocaust and Rwanda-related), the following text will consider the UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda series as a defiant example of contemporary art; one which serves as a testament to our common humanity and the horrors of our complicity.
|Divisions:||Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History|
|Item Type:||Thesis (Masters)|
|Date:||14 September 2011|
|Thesis Supervisor(s):||Mackenzie, Catherine|
|Keywords:||Rwandan Genocide Gertrude Kearns Holocaust theory on visual representation Romeo Dallaire UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda Portraiture Genocide Theodor Adorno Rwanda|
|Deposited By:||CLAUDIA OLIVEIRA|
|Deposited On:||17 Nov 2011 20:35|
|Last Modified:||17 Nov 2011 20:35|
Adorno, Theodor W. Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader. Edited by Rolf Tiedemann. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
Adorno, Theodor W. “Education After Auschwitz.” In Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, 19-33. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
Adorno, Theodor W. Negative Dialectics. New York: Seabury Press, 1973.
Adorno, Theodor W. Notes to Literature, Volume 2. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.
Adorno, Theodor W. Prisms. London: Spearman, 1967.
“Amnesty Urges Rwanda Ease Restrictions on Freedom of Expression.” Voice of America (June 4, 2011). Accessed June 5, 2011. http://www.voanews.com/ english/news/africa/Amnesty-Urges-Rwanda-Ease-Restrictions-on-Freedom-of-Expression-123156253.html.
Bal, Mieke, and Norman Bryson. Looking in: the art of viewing. Amsterdam: G+B Arts International, 2000.
Beardsley, Brent. “Learning from the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 to stop the Genocide in Darfur – Part 1.” Canadian Military Journal (Spring 2005): 41-50. Accessed July 28, 2011. http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo6/no1/human-humain-eng.asp.
Biro, Matthew. “Representation and Event: Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Beuys, and the memory of the Holocaust.” The Yale Journal of Criticism 16.1 (2003): 113-146.
Black, Dan. “Roméo Dallaire.” Legion Magazine (May 7, 2011). Accessed July 30, 2011. http://www.legionmagazine.com/en/index.php/2011/05/romeo-dallaire/.
Brandon, Laura. Art and War. London: I.B. Taurus, 2007.
Burnet, Éliane. “Viyé Diba, Messe-Nue.” Art Press 339 (November 2007): 52-56.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “On the Edge of Horror.” The CBC Digital Archives Website. Last modified November 12, 2010. http://archives.cbc.ca/war_con flict/peacekeeping/topics/1686-11595/.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “The ghosts of Rwanda.” The CBC Digital Archives Website. Last modified November 15, 2010. http://archives.cbc.ca/war_con flict/peacekeeping/topics/1686-11622/.
Caplan, Pat. “’Never Again’: Genocide Memorials in Rwanda.” Anthropology Today 23.1 (February 2007): 20-22.
Cave, Damien. “Where Are the War Heroes?” New York Times, August 7, 2005. Accessed September 11, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/07/weekinreview/07cave.htlm.
Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art. “The Canadian Art Database.” Accessed September 6, 2011. http://www.ccca.ca/artists/artist_info.html?languagePref=en&link_id=6262&artist=Gertrude+Kearns.
Chow, Olivier. “Alfredo Jaar and the Post-Traumatic Gaze.” Tate Papers (Spring 2008). Accessed July 29, 2011. http://www.tate.org.uk/research/tateresearch/tatepapers/ 08spring/chow.shtm.
Clendinnen, Inga. “Representing the Holocaust: The Case for History.” Michigan Quarterly Review 37 (Winter 1998): 80-100.
Critchley, Simon, and Robert Bernasconi. The Cambridge Companion to Lévinas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Dallaire, Roméo. Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Toronto: Random House, 2003.
Dallaire, Roméo. They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. London: Hutchinson, 2010.
Dauge-Roth, Alexandre. Writing and Filming the Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: Dismembering and Remembering Traumatic History. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010.
Derrida, Jacques. “Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides – a Dialogue with Jacques Derrida.” In Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, edited by Giovanna Borradori, 85-136. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Durden, Mark. “Eye-to-Eye.” Art History 23.1 (March 2000): 124-129.
Fox, Paul. “Confronting Postwar Shame in Weimar Germany: Trauma, Heroism and the War Art of Otto Dix.” Oxford Art Journal 29.2 (2006): 247-267.
Genocide Archive Rwanda. “Survivor Testimonies.” Accessed July 28, 2011. http:// www.genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw/index.php/Category:Survivor_Testimonies.
Grant, Richard. “Paul Kagame: Rwanda’s redeemer or ruthless dictator?” The Telegraph, July 22, 2010. Accessed July 28, 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ worldnews/africaandindianocean/rwanda/7900680/Paul-Kagame-Rwandas-redeemer-or-ruthless-dictator.html.
Harting, Heike. “Global Humanitarianism, Race and the Spectacle of the African Corpse in Current Western Representations of the Rwandan Genocide.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 28.1 (2008): 61-77.
Hinton, Alexander Laban, and Kevin Lewis O’Neill. Genocide: truth, memory and representation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.
Hirsch, Marianne. “Projected Memory: Holocaust Photographs in Personal and Public Fantasy.” In Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present, edited by Mieke Bal, Jonathan V. Crewe and Leo Spitzer, 3-23. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1999.
Hirsch, Marianne. “Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory.” The Yale Journal of Criticism 14.1 (Spring 2001): 5-37.
Hofmann, Klaus. “Poetry After Auschwitz – Adorno’s Dictum.” German Life and Letters 58.2 (April 2005): 182-194.
Hron, Madelaine. “Interview with Artists Collin Sekajugo.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 21.3 (July-September 2009): 354-358.
Hudson, Anna. “UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda.” Invitation to UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda Exhibition, Toronto, September 11, 2002.
Kaplan, Brett Ashley. Unwanted Beauty: aesthetic pleasure in Holocaust representation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.
Kearns, Gertrude. Artist Statement for Mission: Camouflage, 2004.
Kearns, Gertrude. Artist Statement for UNdone: Dallaire/Rwanda exhibition, October, 2002.
Kearns, Gertrude. Canadian War Museum Oral History Program. By Mai-Yun Chan. May 6, 2005.
Kirschke, Linda. Broadcasting Genocide: Censorship, Propaganda and State-Sponsored Violence in Rwanda, 1990-1994. London: Article 19, 1996.
Kyriakides, Yvonne. “‘Art after Auschwitz is Barbaric’: Cultural Ideology of Silence through the Politics of Representation.” Media Culture Society 27.3 (May 2005): 441-450.
Lentin, Ronit, ed. Re-Presenting the Shoah for the 21st Century. New York: Berghahn Books, 2004.
Lewis, Jacqueline. “Mass Graves and a Thousand Hills: University Student Perspectives on the Gacaca Courts in Post-Genocide Rwanda.” Inquiry, University of New Hampshire (Spring 2010): 35-42.
Longman, Timothy. “Christian Churches and Genocide in Rwanda.” Revision of a paper originally prepared for the Conference on Genocide, Religion, and Modernity, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, May 11-13, 1997. Accessed June 4, 2011. http://faculty.vassar.edu/tilongma/Church&Genocide.html.
Mackenzie, Lewis. Soldiers Made Me Look Good; a Life in the Shadow of War. Vancouver, BC: Douglas and McIntyre, 2008.
Mamdani, Mahmood. When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.
Martin, Elaine. “Re-reading Adorno: The ‘after-Auschwitz’ Aporia.” Forum 2 (2006): 1-11. Accessed May 30, 2011. http://www.forumjournal.org/site/issue/02/elaine-martin.
Melvern, Linda. Conspiracy to Murder: the Rwandan Genocide. London; New York: Verso, 2006.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Invisible Again; Rwanda and Representation after Genocide.” African Arts 38.3 (Autumn 2005): 36-39, 86-96.
Nahmmacher, Rachel. “Ethics in the face of Auschwitz: the emotional and pedagogical responsibility of Holocaust remembrance.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2008.
Newbury, Catharine. “Ethnicity and the Politics of History in Rwanda.” Africa Today 45.1 (1998): 7-24.
Newbury, David. “Precolonial Burundi and Rwanda: Local Loyalties, Regional Loyalties.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 34.2 (2001): 255-314.
PBS Online and WGBH/Frontline. “The Triumph of Evil. How the West ignored warnings of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide and turned its back on the victims.” Accessed July 28, 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/evil/warning/unresponse.html.
Pevere, Geoff. “Absorbing Return to Massacre Sight.” Toronto Star, September 11, 2004.
Pham, Phuong N., Harvey M. Weinstein, and Timothy Longman. “Trauma and PTSD Symptoms in Rwanda: Implications for Attitudes Toward Justice and Reconciliation.” JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association 292.5 (August 4 2004): 602-612.
Phillips, Patricia C. “The Aesthetics of Witnessing: A Conversation with Alfredo Jaar.” Art Journal 64.3 (Fall 2005): 6-27.
Ray, Gene. “Conditioning Adorno: ‘After Auschwitz’ Now.” Third Text 18.4 (July 2004): 223-230.
Rittner, Carol, John K. Roth, and Wendy Whitworth, eds. Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches? St. Paul, Minn.: Paragon House, 2004.
Roos, Bonnie. “Anselm Kiefer and the Art of Allusion: Dialectics of the Early ‘Margarete’ and ‘Sulamith’ Painting.” Comparative Literature 58.1 (Winter 2006): 24-43.
Rothberg, Michael. Traumatic Realism: the Demands of Holocaust Representation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
Rwanda Governance Advisory Council. “Umuganda.” Accessed June 4, 2011. http://www.rwanda-gac.org/main-menu/innovation/umuganda.html.
Schneider, Hans Joachim, ed. The Victim in International Perspective: 3rd International Symposium Proceedings. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1982.
Shake Hands with the Devil, the Journey of Romeo Dallaire. Directed by Peter Raymont and Lindalee Tracey. 2004. Montreal: White Pine Pictures, 2004. DVD.
Solomon-Godeau, Abigail. “Lament of the Images: Alfredo Jaar and the Ethics of Representation.” Aperture 181 (Winter 2005): 36-47.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography. London: Allen Lane, 1977.
Thompson, Allan. “Dallaire confronts his critics; Some in West ‘criminally responsible’ but Belgian delegates criticize general.” Toronto Star, April 7, 2004.
Tors, Vivian. “Camouflage and Exposure.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 168.9 (April 29, 2003): 1164-1165.
Totten, Samuel, and Paul R. Bartrop. Dictionary of Genocide. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Rwanda: The First Conviction for Genocide.” Holocaust Encyclopaedia. Accessed on July 30, 2011. http://www.ushmm. org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007157.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Theresienstadt: Red Cross Visit.” Holocaust Encyclopaedia. Accessed on May 31, 2011. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007463.
“War Artist Seeks Photos from Soldiers.” The Maple Leaf: The DND/CF Weekly News 12.32 (September 30, 2009): 13. Accessed September 12, 2011. http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/commun/ml-fe/article-eng.asp?id=5656.
“When Rape Becomes Genocide.” The New York Times, September 5, 1998. Accessed July 29, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/05/opinion/when-rape-becomes-genocide.html?ref=jeanpaulakayesu.
Woets, Rhoda. “Comprehend the Incomprehensible: Kofi Setordji’s Travelling Memorial of the Rwanda Genocide.” African Arts 43.3 (Autumn 2010): 52-63.
“Zakaria: Africa’s biggest success story,” CNN.com, July 17, 2009. Accessed June 5, 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/07/17/zakaria.rwanda/.
Repository Staff Only: item control page