Entitlement, empathy and the ethics of representation: contemporary art and the appropriation of trauma

O'Neill, Mary (2012) Entitlement, empathy and the ethics of representation: contemporary art and the appropriation of trauma. In: Interrogating Trauma in the Humanities , 20th - 23rd August 2012, University of Lincoln. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Almost every day for a period in the early autumn of 2006 the face of Angelika Kluk peered out from the pages of Scottish newspapers. The 23-year-old student from Skoczow, Poland, was murdered and her body concealed beneath the floorboards of a Glasgow church. In the spring of 2008 the story of Angelika returned to the newspapers, but this time it was a controversy about an artwork, The Other Church, that commemorated her. In this paper I will explore the debate surrounding the exhibition of Wilhelm Sasnal’s 16mm film, The Other Church, as part of the GI (Glasgow International) Festival. The film depicted a naked young woman miming to a song. The lyrics were drawn from statements posted on Polish websites where her murder was discussed. Before the exhibition opened a controversy arose in the press about the appropriateness of a work that focused on the death of Angelika Kluk. On 29 March 2008, the Sunday Herald printed an article entitled ‘Fury over tribute to Angelika’.
In Writing History, Writing Trauma Dominick La Capra argues that the after effects of traumatic events are 'not fully owned by anyone, and in various ways, affect everyone' (2001, xi) he also cautions against the conflation of the status of victim and bystander in the representation of trauma (2001, 79). I will focus specifically on the ownership of grief as a consequence of traumatic events and who is entitled to portray that grief. In commemoration there is the possibility that a work of art can be perceived as appropriating trauma and exposing old wounds as well as having the potential to aid healing.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:Almost every day for a period in the early autumn of 2006 the face of Angelika Kluk peered out from the pages of Scottish newspapers. The 23-year-old student from Skoczow, Poland, was murdered and her body concealed beneath the floorboards of a Glasgow church. In the spring of 2008 the story of Angelika returned to the newspapers, but this time it was a controversy about an artwork, The Other Church, that commemorated her. In this paper I will explore the debate surrounding the exhibition of Wilhelm Sasnal’s 16mm film, The Other Church, as part of the GI (Glasgow International) Festival. The film depicted a naked young woman miming to a song. The lyrics were drawn from statements posted on Polish websites where her murder was discussed. Before the exhibition opened a controversy arose in the press about the appropriateness of a work that focused on the death of Angelika Kluk. On 29 March 2008, the Sunday Herald printed an article entitled ‘Fury over tribute to Angelika’. In Writing History, Writing Trauma Dominick La Capra argues that the after effects of traumatic events are 'not fully owned by anyone, and in various ways, affect everyone' (2001, xi) he also cautions against the conflation of the status of victim and bystander in the representation of trauma (2001, 79). I will focus specifically on the ownership of grief as a consequence of traumatic events and who is entitled to portray that grief. In commemoration there is the possibility that a work of art can be perceived as appropriating trauma and exposing old wounds as well as having the potential to aid healing.
Keywords:fine art, contemporary art, contemporary art and ethics, art and ethics, ethical responsibility, Angelika Kluk, Wilhelm Sasnal, The Other Church
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V520 Moral Philosophy
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Art & Design
ID Code:6092
Deposited By: Mary O'Neill
Deposited On:31 Aug 2012 09:44
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:12

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