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In Session: Empathy Seen in Korean Visual Art in the Time of Crisis
3: Visualising the State's Violence in South Korea
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
York University, Canada
Even as visual images of violent events serve an evidentiary function, there are critical questions regarding the relationship between the reality of horrific events and visual representation. In particular, the ability of visually representing catastrophes both actually and ethically has been contested. More recently, however, critical concerns have arisen that an emphasis on the limitations of visual materials embodying traumatic violence may push it into something untouchable, unreachable, and even mysterious. This presentation will explore visual images of grievous deaths caused by the state’s violence against civilians in South Korea. By looking at visual representations including photography and painting in reference to unjust killings committed by the state, it will discuss ways in which images of grievous deaths perform an act of testimonies to the violence inflicted on bodies of victims. The images not only reveal the already known wrongdoings but also facilitate a space for the viewer to participate in bearing witness to what is otherwise absent. The visually mediated witnessing is crucial especially when victims could not survive to tell their stories while perpetrators deny their crimes. It discusses the possibility of visual images engaging in ethical witnessing which involves questions about what was done to victims and why it happened, leading to critical inquiries into the social structure of injustice.