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In the wake of trauma : representing the unnameable in contemporary art

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In the wake of trauma : representing the unnameable in contemporary art

Hickey, Andria (2009) In the wake of trauma : representing the unnameable in contemporary art. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Trauma is by its very nature an unnameable entity, one that defies language and instead exists in the realm of dreams, memories, and half-fictional shadows. Nonetheless, the events that form the aftereffects of trauma permeate Western media. As viewers of this media, by way of television, print and the Internet, we are all witnesses of traumatic events. This thesis addresses representations of trauma in contemporary art, with particular attention to their formation of the viewer as witness. Using a lens of trauma theory as a critical framework, an examination of the nature and reception of trauma in the work of contemporary artists Kara Walker and Walid Raad reveals how visual art can provide a complex language for communicating the many dimensions of historical and collective trauma. While Walker uses the traditional medium of the silhouette to investigate history of slavery and its effect on African American culture, Walid Raad has constructed a fictional archive in an attempt to explore the history of war in Lebanon. These strategies and others demonstrate the ways in which Kara Walker and Walid Raad disrupt the experience of viewing traumatic images and create the possibility for multifaceted empathic reactions in the viewer.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Hickey, Andria
Pagination:viii, 104 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Langford, Martha
ID Code:976349
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:24
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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