This thesis delves into the psyche of a survivor of sexual molestation, exploring defense mechanisms, PTSD, and elusive memory in an audio and visual context. Three photographic gazes appear in this work, the dissociative gaze, the experiential gaze and the metaphoric gaze. These gazes are shown in the series In Memory of Trauma which consists of ten large Photographic prints on the gallery wall. Disarticulation is a book of images that discuss the dissociation between mind and body happening after a traumatic experience. There is also a confrontational sound installation, Confessional, that speaks to denial and self-hatred. Work by artists including Tracy Emin, Sue Williams, Harriet Hosmer, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Alfredo Jaar, Joe Spence and Rosie Martin on the subject of sexual abuse and trauma in general are discussed along with the few examples in pop culture such as David Lynch's Twin Peaks and Law and Order, SVU showing the media's portrayal of victim hood. This thesis also addresses some early ideas of Freud and his contemporaries Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Janet on the psychology of trauma survivors. Other theories explored are Susan Sontag's and Ulrich Baer's ideas on re-witnessing and traumatic images and Dora Apel on validation and witness, as well as Janet Marstine's views on feminism and art therapy. Finally this thesis will discuss the cycle of denial and complacency in our society and around the world.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Photography, Artistic--Themes, motives; Photography, Artistic--Technique; Installations (Art)--Themes, motives; Installations (Art)--Technique; Child abuse in art; Psychic trauma in art
Department, Program, or Center
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)
Johnston, Amber, "In memory of trauma" (2009). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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