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Fracture. Femininity, the Broken Gaze,
and the Afterlife of the Shoah in Boris Lurie's Work.
Lecture by the winner of the Aby Warburg Foundation's Science
Award 2021 as part of the annual theme "Images as Actors of the Political".
Hambur/Germany on Nov 9, 2021

Speech in German

In 2021, with its annual theme "Images as Actors of the Political," the Warburg House offers the space to examine political image phenomena and to discuss questions of the current significance of political images in a global context. Political iconography is a historically evolved pictorial phenomenon, but also the scientific method of its study: In art and image studies, it conveys an understanding of complex visual life contexts of the modern as well as post-modern world and the political impact potential of images in the spectrum from information to propaganda. It was Aby Warburg who laid the foundation for its scientific research at his Hamburg library of cultural studies when he not only included it in his epoch- and genre-spanning research on images, but also created an archive on the political propaganda of mass media warfare as early as during the First World War, which attempted to preserve and analyze the agitational mobilization forces on the basis of historical research.

Katharina Sykora, winner of the Aby Warburg Foundation Science Award 2021, will speak in her lecture about the afterlife of the Shoah as a central driving force in Boris Lurie's art. It bears traits of an unfinished performance that fuses an absolute "too late" and the echo "afterwards" into an amalgam and, in the same move, emerges as a rupture in image and language. Harsh dichotomies of death and life, violence and desire, domination and slavery, masculinity and femininity thus gape irreconcilably apart and yet repeatedly intertwine to the point of indistinguishability.

Visualizations of the feminine take on a key function here. Alongside the images of the Shoah, Lurie uses them to play through the most extreme forms of alterity and to reflect on existential mechanisms of exclusion, discipline, and purification, disciplining and purifying mechanisms of Western societies after 1945. By provocatively presenting socially segregated images of the female 'naked and dead' and their inextricable intermingling, Lurie also places himself as artist/author and us as viewers in a deliberate dilemma between curiosity and repulsion. No one is redeemed from this ordeal of dislocation and entanglement, not even within the framework of aesthetic systems of order. Reproduction of the works of Boris Lurie according to the fair use policy of the Boris Lurie Art Foundation.


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ABOUT KATHARINA SYKORA (* 1955 in Bonn): She is a German art historian and professor of art history, specializing in painting, photography and film, and gender studies. She is also active as an exhibition curator. more

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