• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Elsa Chen 13 years, 12 months ago




Aesthetic Wit(h)nessing in the era of Trauma

Griselda Pollock (CentreCATH, University of Leeds)





In art today we are moving from phantasm to trauma. Contemporary aesthetics is moving from phallic structure to matrixial sphere. We are carrying into the [the twenty-first century] enormous traumatic weight, and aesthetic wit(h)nessing in art brings its awareness to culture’s surface.  Certain contemporary art practices bring into light matrixial alliances in confronting the limits of shareability in the trauma and jouissance of the Other. The beautiful accessed via artworks in our era– and I emphasize again our era since we are living through massive effects of transitive trauma, and it is captivated and illuminated by different art works– carries new possibilities for affective apprehending and produces new artistic effects, where aesthetics approaches ethics beyond the artist’s conscious control.

Bracha Ettinger[1]



My lecture will bring together the legacies of feminist, post-colonial cultural theories in relation to the current focus on trauma, memory and aesthetics in an international context.  The legacies of a cluster of western thinkers around the beginning of modernist thought: Freud, Warburg, Bergson were activated in the later twentieth century to produce the constellation of post-structuralist theory that reached across philosophy to art.  This intersected with the first moment in art history in which the project for thinking about gender and sexual difference encountered the visual arts and produced a major contribution to aesthetics and to the visual arts,  That encounter took place at a critical historical moment of art’s own radical reformulation when the modernist project was challenged by the postmodern, producing a radical expansion of the modes, forms, materials and conceptual foundations of contemporary artistic practices.  It is here that aesthetics, ethics and politics come into a new conversation with questions of difference that will be the focus of my lecture and seminar.  How do the terms generated within Western theoretical modernisms travel and translate? How do they enable us to share the legacies of traumatic histories now surfacing in international art?








Griselda Pollock  ‘Art/Trauma/Representation’  parallax   15:1 (2009)  40-54

Bracha Ettinger ‘Art as the Transport Station of Trauma’ in  Bracha Ettinger Artworking 1985-1999 (Ghent: Ludion, 2000)

Griselda Pollock ‘Mary Kelly’s  Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi: Virtual Trauma and Indexical Witnessing in the Age of Mediatic SpectacleDigital and Other Virtualities ed. Griselda Pollock and Antony Bryant (London: I B Tauris, 2009)

Griselda Pollock  ‘Not Forgetting Africa: the Dialectics of Attention/Inattention... in the Work of Alfredo Jaar’ in Nicole Schweizer, ed.  Alfred Jaar: La Politique des Images Lausanne: Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts, 2007)






在今日的藝術,我們已經從幻象移轉至創傷。當代美學,也從陽具崇拜的結構(phallic structure)轉變為matrixial sphere。我們身負巨大的創傷重量(進入21世紀),藝術裡的美學感同和見證,衝破文化的匝門,顯露意識的曙光。一些當代藝術實踐,讓人注意到matrixial連結,如何在挑戰創傷的難以分享以及他者的愉悅上發生作用。透過我們這個時代的藝術作品可以接近的美─我要再次強調我們的時代,因為我們活在充滿巨大創傷移轉效應的年代,這個年代著迷著不同的藝術作品,並深受其影響─帶來理解情感作用的新可能,並產生新的藝術效應。這個美學觸及倫理學之處,在藝術家的意識控制範圍之外。

Bracha Ettinger

(Bracha Ettinger, ‘Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze: From Phantasm to Trauma, from Phallic Structure to Matrixial Sphere’,  parallax, 7:4 (2001): 89-114.)




[1] Bracha Ettinger, ‘ Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze: From Phantasm to Trauma, from Phallic Structure to Matrixial Sphere’,  parallax, 7:4 (2001): 89-114

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.