Visualizing absence

Opening: 24.06.2014 @6:30pm
Location: Hoa Sen University
Rm. NZ507 (5th Floor)
8 Nguyen Van Trang,
Dst. 1, Ho Chi Minh City



This lecture will consider how contemporary art practices take up the problem of visualizing absence by archiving and creating around social and political erasure. As artists and thinkers, how do we identify and respond to stories, social histories, and conflicts which we experience as crucial to our understanding of our own history, nation, or family, but yet seem difficult to extract from the public domain, or remain mysteriously absent from official records? What are the limits and possibilities of counter narratives and radical archiving practices that might enable us to give material form to that which has disappeared? Questions at the core of this problem include:  what unique role might contemporary art practices such as discursive platforms, site-specific installation, and web-based archives play in a project of archiving around erasures and absence? What is the role and responsibility of the artist in citing or documenting source imagery in the process of producing a counter-archive? How might we use specific visual platforms to collectively imagine a set of alternate histories, which are submerged in governmental histories and records? I will frame this discussion via projects, challenges and key questions that animate ‘Index of the Disappeared’, a ten year collaborative project that is both a visual practice and discursive platform that foregrounds the difficult histories of immigrant, ‘Other’, and dissenting communities in the United States since September 11, 2001 – including a rapidly changing relationship to surveillance, illegal imprisonment and targeting extra-judicial killings. Through official documents, secondary literature, images, and personal narratives, we trace the ways in which censorship and data blackouts are part of a discursive shift to secrecy. — Chitra Ganesh participates in ‘Encounter’, a lecture series which is part of a large artistic endeavour called ‘Conscious Realities’, initiated and organized by San Art in partnership with Prince Claus Fund.