IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Leonida Kovač
The (im)Possibility of Verbalization or Visualization of Trauma: Polyrhythmics and Migrating voices

The paper analyzes recent multimedia work in progress – Polyrhythmics and Migrating Voices by Croatian artist Nicole Hewitt. The project that consists of an experimental film, a slide-projection, an audio installation and a set of live performances, addresses the topic of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Den Haag, but it doesn't deal with any particular war crime nor with any of the culprits or their victims. Instead, it focuses on the "peripheralia" of the trials where the real protagonists are precarious workers, as well as respectable employees of the Tribunal (court interpreters, analysts, victim support professionals, etc.), who twenty years ago were refugees from the war zones of ex-Yugoslavia with a status of illegal or semi-legal immigrants in Netherlands. The project deals with all that participates in the technologies of trial and its media transmission. The basic theme of the project is the relation between (im)possibility of verbalization or visualization of trauma and media production of reality, including production of the intelligible social subjects with their pertaining identities. Polyrhythmics and Migrating Voices explores a position of living body in an interspace of personal and official history; processes of becoming and existing within a language; migratory states excluded from the register of perceptibility, speakability and imaging, but yet existing in various registers of memory: at the intersection of past and future, in the elusive present. In the process of articulation of this artistic project, Hewitt appropriates forensic methods and in doing so, she simultaneously unweaves the sediments of her own memory, as well as the structural layers of the images of Den Haag's trials for the war crimes at the territories of former Yugoslavia, images generated by electronic media and digital technologies.