Beautiful little dead things: empathy, witnessing, trauma and animals' suffering
AffiliationCentre for Ideas
School of Art
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2014 Dr. Lynn Mowson
This sculptural practice-led research investigates empathy, trauma and witnessing and the role of testimony in visual arts practice. The thesis argues that Edith Stein’s phenomenological account of empathy articulates an empathic encounter that recognizes the alterity of the other. Stein’s account, I argue, can be drawn out to include encounters with nonhuman animals and sculptural objects that resemble embodied forms. Responding to developments in my sculptural practice the research examined the possibility of visual art practices to bear witness to the ongoing suffering of animals: marking out the possibility for sculptural objects to perform as testimonial objects. As testimonial objects they attest to the trauma of the one who witnesses for the other. Ethical considerations in relation to materiality, representation and the position of one who testifies for, or on behalf of, the other are examined.
Keywordssculpture; figurative sculpture; sculptural body; empathy; Edith Stein; human-animal studies; flesh; skin; witnessing; bearing witness; trauma; testimony; animals' suffering; animals' advocates; traumatic knowledge; wax sculpture; latex sculpture; animals; art; critical animal studies
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