Remembering and dismembering : violence, representation and the body : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington

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Experiences of violence are commodified, sanitised and eroticised through their visual and linguistic representation, and as such they are implicit in the power relations in which the original violence occurs. Because of this representations of violence and trauma are deeply problematic. Within this research I explore the poverty, the continued violation even, of attempts to narrate (visually or textually) experiences of violence and trauma in the face of real people and real bodies that have been violated and traumatised. A response by some visual artists to this dilemma has been to try and re-present violence through the use of a symbolic body. The symbolic body may act as a cipher to communicate aspects of experience from other bodies. In this thesis I discuss the politics of using symbolic bodies as a visual strategy to narrate violence. I pay particular attention to how these representations may simultaneously remember (witness to) and dismember (violate) violated bodies. By reflecting on both my own works and those of other artists, I explore the possibilities as well as the problematics of attempting to narrate violence and trauma without violating. I discover that this is an extremely difficult task but insist on the importance of trying.
Appendix 3 can be viewed in the print copy held in the library
Violence in art, Modern art, New Zealand