Many on the left lament an apathy or amnesia toward recent acts
of war. Particularly during the George W. Bush administration's
invasion of Iraq, opposition to war seemed to lack the heat and
potency of the 1960s and 1970s, giving the impression that
passionate dissent was all but dead.
Through an analysis of three politically engaged works of art,
Rosalyn Deutsche argues against this melancholic attitude,
confirming the power of contemporary art to criticize subjectivity
as well as war. Deutsche selects three videos centered on the
deployment of the atomic bomb: Krzysztof Wodiczko's Hiroshima
Projection (1999), made after the first Gulf War; Silvia
Kolbowski's After Hiroshima mon amour (2005-2008); and
Leslie Thornton's Let Me Count the Ways (2004-2008), which
followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Each of these works confronts the ethical task of addressing
historical disaster, and each explores the intersection of past and
present wars. These artworks profoundly contribute to the discourse
of war resistance, illuminating the complex dynamics of viewing and
interpretation. Deutsche employs feminist and psychoanalytic
approaches in her study, questioning both the role of totalizing
images in the production of warlike subjects and the fantasies that
perpetuate, especially among the left, traditional notions of
political dissent. She ultimately reveals the passive collusion
between leftist critique and dominant discourse in which personal
dimensions of war are denied.
Subjects: Sociology, Art & Art History, Philosophy
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