Violence of the Image

Lesia Kulchynska, Ph.D.

My project explores points of high intensity in the relationship between art and society. I focus in particular on clashes between the two, examining the ways in which such clashes shed light on the often unseen structures that frame society’s approaches and responses to art. Drawing on examples of intolerance towards art projects in Ukraine and beyond, my research aims at understanding why certain artistic images are perceived as intolerable or dangerous. Is it that the feeling of threat stemming from an image is a sign of its inherent power? If so, is that power related to violence? And if there is a violence of the image, what is being violated and how?
Thinking about these acts of perception as censorship, or in some cases open attacks, I read them against the contexts of broader political and economic processes that define and structure these responses. I argue that the relationship with an image evolves with the virtualization of artistic, social and political realms as well as their overlap, especially in the context of hybrid or kinetic wars and the easy weaponization of images.


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