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Trespassing through Shadows

Memory, Photography, and the Holocaust

1998
Author:

Andrea Liss

Trespassing through Shadows

The first book to interpret the role of photography in current representations of the Holocaust.

Photographs of the Holocaust bear a double burden: to act as history lessons for future generations so we will “never forget” and to provide a means of mourning. In Trespassing through Shadows, Andrea Liss examines the inherent difficulties and productive possibilities of using photographs to bear witness, initiating a critical dialogue about the ways the post-Auschwitz generation has employed these documents to represent Holocaust memory and history.

Liss experiences creative freedom and infectious exuberance for her topic that she passes along to her reader. After completing her book, I feld hope for the future of Holocaust representation as a carrier of memory and responsibility.

East Bay Express Books

Photographs of the Holocaust bear a double burden: to act as history lessons for future generations so we will “never forget” and to provide a means of mourning. In Trespassing through Shadows, Andrea Liss examines the inherent difficulties and productive possibilities of using photographs to bear witness, initiating a critical dialogue about the ways the post-Auschwitz generation has employed these documents to represent Holocaust memory and history.

Focusing on a wide range of photographic displays and museum installations as well as such films as Shoah and Schindler’s List, Liss questions the role of photography as social practice. She critically analyzes the transformations that documentary and more intimate photographs undergo as they are mediated through contemporary exhibition techniques, both at the institutional level of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and in the hands of a group of contemporary artists and photographers including Art Spiegelman, Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman, Christian Boltanski, Suzanne Hellmuth and Jock Reynolds, and Anselm Kiefer.

Liss is especially interested in examining the uneasy intersections between the demand for historical accuracy and calls for respectful remembrance of those who were violated. Because of the horror captured in some of these photographs, Liss explains, the modern viewer is inevitably positioned to replicate the dynamic of victimhood and martyrology, rather than experience retrospective empathy for those pictured.

Liss acknowledges the indispensability of documentary photographs even while formulating necessary new questions about contemporary uses of such photographs to create pathways of access to the events. Ultimately, the dilemmas of memory that Liss addresses are central to discussions of documentary practice. Timely and lucidly crafted, Trespassing through Shadows provides crucial insight into debates around representational strategies.

Trespassing through Shadows

Andrea Liss is the contemporary art historian and cultural theorist in the Visual and Performing Arts Program at California State University, San Marcos.

Trespassing through Shadows

Liss experiences creative freedom and infectious exuberance for her topic that she passes along to her reader. After completing her book, I feld hope for the future of Holocaust representation as a carrier of memory and responsibility.

East Bay Express Books

Documentary photographic approaches to historical and contemporary suffering are facing a serious crisis in postmodern analysis. As Andrea Liss uncompromisingly shows, this crisis is especially acute in the contemporary artistic and museological remembrance of the Holocaust. Motivated by an effort to rename and rehumanize the victims, saving them from the obscene images taken by the perpetrators and disseminated in post-war representations, Trespassing through Shadows is inspired by a feminist ethics of care, empathy, and respect. A moving, concerned, and generous book.

Marianne Hirsch, author of Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory

Liss sheds new light on the process by which we remember the Holocaust, and the critical role that historical photographs play in stirring and shaping our memory. Liss’s work leaves the reader with a fuller understanding of why and how we should remember the victims of Nazi genocide.

Holocaust and Genocide

Trespassing through Shadows

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: (Im)Possible Witnessing

1 Photography and Naming
2 The Identity Card Project and the Tower of Faces at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
3 Between Trauma and Nostalgia: Christian Boltanski’s Memorials and Art Spiegelman’s Maus
4 Artifactual Witnessing as (Im)Possible Evidence
5 The Provocation of Postmemories In Lieu of a Conclusion: Tender Rejections

Notes
Bibliography
Index