The system will be going down for regular maintenance at 6pm NZT today for approximately 15minutes. Please save your work and logout.
Lives unremembered : the Holocaust and strategies of its representation : an exegesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
The Holocaust is a subject that seems to defy artistic representation by way of its sheer scale of
tragedy and subsequent trauma. As I will demonstrate in this paper, it is hard to restore
visibility – pictorial links between past and present realities – to crimes that have been
deliberately submerged by its perpetrators. I will examine some of the common strategies used
in representation of the victims of the Holocaust since the end of the Second World War, in the
mediums of film and photography.
As my main method of enquiry, I will examine three films from different eras, and of very
different approaches in terms of their processing of the proposed original evidence, as
examples to illustrate my arguments. In the second chapter Alain Resnais's documentary film
Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog) is analyzed as a birthplace of the so-called iconography of
the Holocaust. Chapter three examines workings of memory through the aesthetic form that
was soon to follow; the role and testimony of the survivors is considered through Claude
Lanzmann's Shoah. In the fourth chapter a new player is introduced: the second generation
witness of postmemory, works of transmitted but unexperienced realities. In this chapter I will
closer examine the workings of art in the game of reprocessing the evidence of the Holocaust,
and through Dariusz Jablonski's film Fotoamator I aim to critique how the previously discussed
approaches serve to further lock the Holocaust in an inaccessible canon.
Moreover, the generalization implied – a drive toward universalization of the Holocaust as an
idiom or even a metaphor for the dark sides of human history/character – derives from
problems of representation; mainly that of anonymity in face of the proposed beauty of the
spectacle, of tragedy and suffering in mass-media. A key problem is that any historical
document, however we define one, is considered transparent and unmediated, whereas art is
clearly something where a degree of mediation is necessarily recognized. In the face of this
dichotomy it seems that all the collected "proof" of the Holocaust – witness accounts"
photographs" films" material remains – achieves, is to stregthen the prevailing version of