Frames of atrocity: Resistance and left melancholy | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 25, Issue 49
  • ISSN: 0845-4450
  • E-ISSN: 2048-6928



This article considers current dilemmas for artists and critics who desire to respond to contemporary violence, trauma and atrocity free of any melancholic attachment to past politics and ideals - a failed or lost campaign or struggle. Described by Walter Benjamin as the problem of 'left melancholy', its persistence in the 1990s and beyond into the post-September 11 era necessitated seizing possibilities to embrace and develop radical ways of responding to contemporary events. The article explores theories and art practices that address pressing questions without preconceived answers. Given the horror of the present, what would an effective political intervention in the field of imagery be like? How to avoid the premature - melancholic - validation of available paradigms of representation to produce enabling cultural work? Recent examples by Regina José Galindo, Mark Boulos, Renzo Martens, Alfredo Jaar and Lars Laumann are examined in the light of such questions.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Boulos; Galindo; Jaar; Laumann; left melancholy; Martens; trauma
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