What is violence?: some notes on ‘The Kill’

This is a bit from my project notes. It refers to the pastel drawing, ‘The Kill’ (arrows and yellow bear-lion), posted under Hunter and Hunted, but is also about some of the underlying questions I am exploring in this project. (The Doris Salcedo installation I saw on season 4 of the PBS series, ‘Art 21’.):

Appropriated Doris Salcedo’s “crack” from London train station installation. She made a mathematically accurate crack that runs the length of the station, embedded in a concrete layer on top of actual floor. Talked about wanting to break through first world “arrogance”, reveal the true un-greatness of this industrial building. She said, “I wanted to get people to look down instead of up.” All these viewers walking slowly along edge of crack. Reminded me of post-9/11 city roamers. Writing this, I realize the intent of Salcedo’s art may not have been so distant from the intent of WTC bombers…Again this question of “What is violence?” Can it be a complex, rather than simplistic, act? Can it’s execution contain love as much as brutality? Are there situations in which violence is the most truthful act? Can destruction be redemptive? How about murder? What does the intimacy of our bodies within acts of violence also say about our vulnerability? For instance, the “terrorists” who died flying planes into the WTC…Did we imagine their bodies also in those flames or was their death different because choiceful? How much of these distinctions is about our need to control/explain/manage/make sense of pain and mortality? What if we remove our need to be comforted/feel safe–does this alter our view of violence? Does it become something we willingly approach as a deeply natural and necessary act?


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