Visual Arts Library
Normal life assumes a predictable structure of experience, with people and places generally found where they are supposed to be. Under the pressure of violence and dislocation, however, a sense of disarray takes hold, as familiar faces and places can no longer be reliably located. As a result, there is a sense of the normal world caving in, of Collapsing Space rushing to fill a painful void.
The experience of violence can be too harsh to face directly. Instead, artists may take some distance from real events, imagining idyllic alternatives. These alternatives may be couched in fantasy or humor, but they represent a struggle to Escape the immediacy of a trauma.
Often, the shock of Events compels an artist to depict the drama of what happened, to reflect on the massive size and scale of an episode of traumatic violence. Drawn out of reality, these works walk a fine line between documentary and imaginative impulses.
Depictions of large-scale violence can have the unintended effect of reinforcing the anonymity of the victims of such violence. By focusing on individuals in distress, artists try to reclaim the humanity of people caught up in conflict. Yet, the tension on the Faces shown in these works demonstrates the deforming effects of being forced outside the confines of security.
The passage of time reduces the strength and certainty of memory. These works illuminate the struggle to hold tight as Fading Memory slips away.
The strength of family ties is never so apparent as when they are endangered. Threatened, damaged or abruptly severed, these intimate relationships are at the center of these artworks focused on Families.
Violence extends in a series of expanding, concentric circles. An individual caught in its gravity is pulled away from friends and family, from casual acquaintances and community. Isolation focuses on individuals torn from the context of their normal lives.
In these works, the artist is drawn back to a scene of violence. Often, the Landscapes are empty, leaving the viewer to imaginatively re-populate barren spaces.
After the violence, as shock wears away, reclaiming something of the lost past emerges as a preoccupation of survivors, as well as more distanced observers. Remembrance is expressed in an extraordinary variety of forms, but it always aims at providing a contemporary statement of witness to receding moments of history.
The Emptiness of Places
In recent years, a number of photographers have returned to scenes of terrible violence,in order to document The Emptiness of Places. This search for the shadows of the past encompasses a distinct genre of contemporary photography, built around images of absence.
These works return to the starting point of trauma: the moment of Violence and destruction. Panic and pain, confusion and conflict are combined in these desperate images.
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