Becoming a Secondary Witness: Art, Trauma, and (non-) Memory of the Kazakh Famine, 1930 – 1933 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


What does it mean to be a witness to someone else's pain and suffering? What does it mean to remember an event, the memory of which has not yet taken shape? What ethical positions can artists take in the acts of seeing? Speaking from the position of an artist, who has inherited the traumas of the Soviet past, I will discuss the challenges of becoming a ‘secondary witness’ (Apel, 2002). Taking as an example my art-led research on memory of the Kazakh Famine – a man-made famine caused by the Soviet policies of collectivisation and sedentarisation in the 1930s – I will reflect on the possibilities of artistic witnessing. Drawing on Bracha Ettinger's notion of "wit(h)nessing” that demands to remain with the suffering subject or with the traces of his experience, I will pay more attention to indexical and textual memory fragments; which I attempt to transform aesthetically. ’Here I will reflect on the use of hand-drawing and hand-drawn animation, as a part of the discussion of my role as a mediator between the viewer and the traumatic event.


Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error