Torture and Representation: The Art of <i>Détournement</i>

Abigail Solomon-Godeau

in Speaking about Torture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242245
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242283 | DOI:
Torture and Representation: The Art of Détournement

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Torture and Representation: The Art of Détournement This chapter reflects on visual art that addresses torture in the specific context of its practice at Abu Ghraib prison. It examines the oil paintings of Ferdinand Botero, web-based photographs by Clifford Fein, multi-media installations by Jenny Holzer (“Protect, Protect”), and posters designed by the anonymous collective Forkscrew (“iRaq”) in order to evaluate which forms and locales of visual production are most likely to prompt reflection on and protest against torture rather than voyeurism and visual consumption. It argues that projects like Holzer’s and Forkscrew’s that employ the French Situationists’ strategy of détournement—the appropriation of recognizable images in order to subvert, derail, or transfigure their original meaning—are more likely to resist the sensationalism and voyeurism that attend the long history of artistic representation of torture than the signature style of a Botero painting or the artistic simulations of torture in Fein’s photography.

Keywords: Détournement; Voyeurism; Ferdinand Botero; Clifford Fein; Jenny Holzer; Hans Haacke; Forkscrew

Chapter.  4019 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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