Destroyed Human Bodies

WHEN : 24th October, 6:00pm
WHERE : Institute of Modern Art

Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn’s video Touching Reality conflates seeing and touching. We watch fingertips scroll through photographs on a touchscreen. The photographs are of corpses and carnage; scenes of war, violence, and dismemberment; bodies burnt and shredded. We see heads blown apart; bits of muscle, viscera, and brain matter. These are images we do not tend to see in newspapers, but which are accessible on the Internet. Unidentified, the shots are generic (they could be from anywhere) yet specific (we see individuals uniquely mangled). The fingers caress the screen, stopping to zoom in for more detail, then move on. But we don’t know their motivation, whether concerned or prurient—or neither. Certainly, they show us more than we might care to see. Hirschhorn wants us to feel uneasy, and to ponder our emotional and political relationship to these images.

We are organising a panel discussion around this confronting political work. We have an esteemed panel. They are Rex Butler (School of English, Media Studies, and Art History, University of Queensland), Ryan Johnston (Head of Art, Australian War Memorial, Canberra), William Platz (Queensland College of Art), Elizabeth Stephens (Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland), and Scott Stephens (Online Editor of Religion and Ethics, ABC), with chair Rosemary Hawker (Griffith University). For background, read Hirschhorn’s essay ‘Why Is It Important—Today—To Show and Look at Images of Destroyed Human Bodies?’. It’s on our website.

Thomas Hirschhorn is represented by Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.