Haunting Lessons

  • Joscelyn Jurich Department of Anthropology Columbia University New York
Keywords:
haunting, war violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina, genocide, absence

Abstract

This paper examines horror through works by three artists taking the sites and remains of extreme violence as their subject matters: Australian actress Kym Vercoe’s performance piece, “Seven Kilometres Northeast,”(2010) Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić’s film based on the same piece, “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” (2013) and Bosnian photographer Ziyah Gafić’s ongoing project, “Quest for Identity,” begun in 2011, a series of photographs of the material remains found in mass graves around Srebrenica, several of which are displayed in the Srebrenica Memorial Room in the former Dutchbat headquarters in Potočari.  Vercoe’s and Žbanić’s works focus on Višegrad and specifically upon the Vilina Vlas spa, which was used as a rape camp during the Bosnian war. Spaces such as these where acts of violence occurred carry more than traces; they are replete with the environments of past events that linger and animate them.  They are what Avery Gordon describes as haunted sites of social life that are not easily perceivable but make their presence felt. Through examining these artistic works, I argue that they reveal how the seemingly inanimate may become an animated site of horror yet are also engaged creative attempts to transform psychic and spatial abjection motivated by a productive haunting of “something-to-be-done”.

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Published
2016-07-02
How to Cite
Jurich, Joscelyn. 2016. “Haunting Lessons”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 11 (2), 435–454. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v11i2.6.