Issue 4/2021

Bearing Witness

Can art reproduce real events? Irrespective of all the aesthetic formatting it undertakes, for better or for worse, can it turn an unbiased gaze on historical (or other factual) episodes – as a veristic medium, as it were? And can bearing witness, as a legal concept, also be understood from an artistic vantage point, adding further facets in a manner that is perhaps not envisaged at all in the disciplinary register? The "Bearing Witness" issue brings together highlights and voices relating to this nexus of questions. In the process, it mostly gives a platform to those who have something to testify to, to attest to, even to „give evidence about“ in terms of their artistic practice, career trajectories, and also in the light of their aesthetic repertoires and political concerns. Over and above the „tribunal-based“ approaches that have recently become widespread, this edition also addresses scenarios of testifying that relate to earlier historical periods, whereby individuals combat amnesia and the imperative to remain silent or bring underexposed truths to light through their testifying. "Bearing Witness" asserts the significance of such acts of defiance and resistance – small inconspicuous truthful reports and „testimonials“ – in the face of pro-relativism stances.

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Ines Doujak