The Tenacity of Memory: Art in the Aftermath of Atrocity

  • Claudia Bernardi
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


In this wide-ranging essay, Bernardi explores personal and artistic responses to state violence. Marking the limits of memory in witnessing the past, she argues for a complex understanding of memory as a mode of reclaiming the disappeared, as the foundation for consciousness building, and, when transmuted into material forms, as a means of witnessing. Bernardi conceptualizes artistic creation as fulfilling multiple roles in witnessing, and as an exchange that demands both speech and recognition. An artistic response to atrocity, she writes, demonstrates an important form of listening to testimonials of atrocity; in turn, that demonstration invites both members and observers into rituals of commemoration. Such rituals, she argues, can provide the foundation for rebuilding trust and understanding in communities that have been damaged by state violence.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California College of the ArtsOaklandUSA

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