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Contemporary Art and Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland: The Consolation of Form

Bell, Vikki. 2011. Contemporary Art and Transitional Justice in Northern Ireland: The Consolation of Form. Journal of Visual Culture, 10(3), pp. 324-353. ISSN 1470-4129 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Abstract
Contemporary artworks in Northern Ireland are explored here as critical constellations, in Walter Benjamin’s sense, that engage the cultural processes of transition through their problematisation of it. It is argued that the artworks become sites in which the assumptions of transition are opened up for critical reflection, requesting attention to the foreclosing of the meanings of memory, of past-and-future, of community. A mode of critical questioning of the present renders the present problematic not in terms of exclusions nor with reference to a past that cannot or will not be erased, but in terms of the present’s inability to be conceived through a linear conception of time. That is, the past and its relation to both the present and to the future are set in oscillation as artworks explore the complex temporalities of a present self-consciously attempting to narrate itself away from the past. The artworks, ‘without the bigotry of conviction’ as Seamus Deane put it, suggest that the task of dealing with the past is flawed wherever the past is conceived as a history that can be rendered present to be judged by subjects who are thereby placed beyond it. That is the illusion of a present ‘no-time’ that dovetails with the desires of commercial enterprise and neo-liberal conceptions of freedom. If this suggests an unceasing restlessness, the consolation is that this questioning does take a form, not as judgement or political decision but as artworks which by definition, remain open to reinterpretation and new understandings. These issues are discussed with reference to the work of four artists in Northern Ireland: the paintings of Rita Duffy, the photography and installation work of Anthony Haughey, and the sculptural works of Philip Napier and Mike Hogg.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1177/1470412911419760

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Dates:

DateEvent
December 2011Published

Item ID:

3740

Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2010 12:19

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2018 05:46

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/3740

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