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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Witnessing untitled Harker, Christopher Graham

Abstract

This thesis marks my encounter with Vancouver artist Jayce Salloum's untitled project. The untitled project is a series of three video tapes, untitled part 1: everything and nothing presents a conversation with Soha Bechara, a prominent figure in the Lebanese Resistance to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Part 2: beauty and the east, traces a journey Jayce made through the Balkans. Part 3b: as if (beauty never ends...) combines footage from the 1982 Israeli sanctioned, Phalangist massacre at Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps with a refugee's story of his return to the site of his former home in Palestine. The different parts also combine together to form the untitled installation. In thinking through this work, I draw upon the figure of the witness as outlined by Giorgio Agamben in Remnants of Auschwitz to examine the manner in which subjectivities are enrolled in performances of witnessing, and the difference particular geographies make to these processes. Witnessing also brings into play a specific ethics of representation, which I trace through our encounter with Lebanon, the Balkans and Palestine when watching untitled. This in turn leads to a close examination of the ways in which untitled works with and challenges sensationalized and Orientalist representations of these places. Finally, I think explicitly about the political importance of Salloum's work and the micropolitical spatial practices that it engenders.

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