Author: Saltzman, Lisa
Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture; Springer International Publishing AG, 2016.
Abstract: This essay explores the relation between trauma and representation by attending to a set of cultural works—architectural, artistic and literary—that took the events of September 11th as their subject. Through a close reading of these works, indebted at once to an art historical project of exegesis and interpretation and to a literature on trauma, the essay proposes and pursues the possibility that such work is not so much, or not yet, a post-traumatic representation of September 11th but rather, a cultural site in which the very impossibility of such representation is both theorized and figured. Among those works discussed are Michael Arad’s now-realized memorial proposal, Reflecting Absence, a piece that is at once a work of art and architecture, Jonathan Borofksy’s sculptural installation Walking to the Sky, Paul Chan’s video installation 1st Light, Pia Lindman’s “portraits of grief,” as well as her video projects Viewing Platform and Waterline, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel, In the Shadow of No Towers and, finally, as a gesture of conclusion, a literary work that is punctuated by photographs that appear with all the unpredictability and force of the traumatic flashback, Jonathan Safran Foer’s illustrated work of literary fiction, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.