Rogue Memories: Reflections on Trauma, Art, and Technology

Johanna Fassl, Franklin University Switzerland, Columbia UniversityCaroline Wiedmer, Franklin University Switzerland

In their introduction to the volume, Johanna Fassl and Caroline Wiedmer depart from a conversation with Syrian painter and poet Salam Ahmad who fled from the war with his family to Switzerland to probe the connections between trauma, creativity, and representation.  In particular they ask what it means to continue working when an artist is displaced by war. In Ahmad’s work abstraction is present in powerful elipses in the figuration of the human body and in the absence of titles for all of his paintings – it is associated with mutilation, death, and destruction. Fassl and Wiedmer then give a short overview of trauma literature and introduce the individual volume articles. Each one explains trauma and abstraction from a different point of view, showing that it can be located not only in in void and absence, but also in deformation and distortion, fragmentation and dispersal, excess and hyperbole, and hyperreality and hypervisibility. Technology plays an important role in the twenty-first century discussion, as it has great potential for the unveiling and understanding of the nature of traumatic memory.

Keywords: trauma, abstraction, creativity, Salam Ahmad, technology

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