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Seminar Project Proposal

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 12:43 am


The project is inspired under these conditions:

1. As a student of rhetoric, I am always interested in the rhetoric of war. What was sparked at the edge of life and death fascinates me as they are the reflections of bare human nature, full of emotions: anger, fear, despair, calmness, etc.

2. As a designer, I always try to come up with non-conventional solutions to problems. The question of what else can be done other than what has already existed challenges me to learn from the existing experience and pushes the boundary further. I want this project to be part of my portfolio that I can be proud of, and can use as a demonstration of my creativity to problem solving.

3. As a fonder for resistance art, I have been looking at examples such as Polish poster art, South African resistance art and other art forms that are created under extreme restrictions.

4. As a supporter of environment protection, I try to stay away from printing or consuming natural resources for the final presentation of the project.

Thus, I want to look at art created in Holocaust, to examine the condition in which they were created, to research how the art serves as resistance to the victims, and finally to experiment if somehow we can be part of them, feeling their fear, anger, despair and yet, hope.


I will be writing a research essay on the resistance of art in Holocaust and trying to answer the inquiries, such as “What does the art work produced by the victims of the Holocaust say beyond the obvious?” and “What is shared between the experience of the Holocaust artists and other resistance artists, and in what sense are they different from each other?”

I will also be preparing an interactive presentation in a gallery/studio to re-produce the experiences of the victims, and to challenge the audience’s perception of the Holocaust, and to bond the artists of the Holocaust with the living. Instead of a gallery of images or film viewing, I am thinking of leading the audience through a set of experiences in which they feel/hear/touch/see the process of the holocaust. At last, I hope the audience will walk away with a new understanding the Holocaust and the realization of we are all part of a resistance process.

Some of my initial thoughts of the site installation:

1. Viewers take off their shoes before enter the space. Their shoes will be re-arranged to mimic the pile of shoes left by the victims. OR viewers can put their shoes into a pile as they enter the space.

2. The space will be in complete dark, and viewers need to lie down on the floor right next to each other, as the victims did in the camp.

3. Audio will be playing along with a narrative of my research people so that viewers can hear the story while feeling the physical uncomfortablity. The audio will include bells, alarms, dog barks, steps, etc that occurred in the Holocaust camps.

4. When the audio presentation is over, the space will be lit so that the viewers can see the environment. The surround walls will be wrapped with white fabrics with writing on them. I will handwrite my research paper on the fabric and the writing will form the barbed wire surrounding the space.

5. Then, the viewers will go through a tunnel where the fabric will turn into red, as flames.

6. Last, they will enter the space where their shoes have been rearranged in a pile in the middle the room. A scale will be presented to show the ratio between the viewers’ shoes and the victims’.

7. A discussion will be followed.


I think I am writing for the general public across religions, ethnics, race and age, as everyone should remember the experience, carry on the resistance spirit of the artists in Holocaust and regard themselves as participators of a big current social movement—to make the world a better place.


I will look at books of art produced in the Holocaust as well as site installation inspirations. I will also look into online resources. Some books that I’ve found are:


Art of The Holocaust by Janet Blatter and Sybil Milton

Spiritual Resistance 1940-1945: Art from Concentration Camps by Union of American Hebrew Congregations

The Living Witness: Art in the Concentration Camps and Ghettos by Mary Costanza

Without Surrender: Art of the Holocaust by Nelly Toll

Site-Installation Related:

Conversation Pieces: Community + Communication in Modern Art by Grant Kester

Installations by Architects: Experiments in Building and Design by Sarah Bonnemaison and Ronit Eisenbach

Other resources:

Resistance Art in South Africa by Sue Williams

Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance under the Gun by Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lyderson


While looking the identities of the artists in the Holocaust, I want my project to resist to the identity of “viewer.” We are not just outsiders looking at historical artwork. We should not merely see the artwork as evidence of what happened in the history of humanity and view them as part of “the past.” Holocaust is still going on in one form or the other, and we are all part of the victims. Thus, we are part of the “resistance fighters.” I want to craft the identity of “victims” and “fighters” among viewers through the project.


Freewrite #5 on Identities as a Rhetoric of Resistance

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2010 at 4:53 am

In Borderlands, I think Anzaluda reveals that the fundamental aspects of the formation of identities can be seen in the borderlands where two different culture meet, infuse and clash. The Texas-U.S. Southwest/Mexican border in particular has been a place where oppression of women, multiple identities conflict with integrity, struggles of native language are easily exposed.

She uses many rhetorical strategies in her writing, for example, the shift in the written language in particular and the usage of the poems or songs written by the natives. They both serve as her way of resistance because the mixture of language make her writing only partially understandable to the readers. It is a demonstration of the statement that “we have to meet in the middle” as Anzaluda proposed in the beginning of her book.

She first talks about the history of conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico, and she argues that borders create a border culture, where the unsafe meets the save, us meets them. The inhabitants living at the borders are excluded from the other side of the line; and even worse, from it’s own country too. Because of the fragile of the state of the borders, identities are constantly being challenged, killed and reborn.

Although she never directly mentions imperialism, Eurocentricism and modernity, she implies that the struggles of the people at the borders are inevitably resulted from those larger contexts. The ideology of male above female, the slavery of the native Mexicans, the struggles of the natives with their land–their home, the exploitation of the raw materials in Mexico and taking over the economic control by the U.S. that leads to tragedies during illegal border crossing…They are all wailings of Mexico.

Unlike Dussel, Anzaluda spends a lot of time looking at her own struggle with her multiple identities. By looking at her rebellion against the beliefs of her culture, she makes me understand the resistance of many. When we are talking about Eurocentricism, modernity, we cannot forget that it is not only the ideologies that we are dealing with, it is also the human beings from whom those ideologies are created and spread. She says that humans fear the supernatural, and that “Culture and religion seek to protect us from these two force.” It is the insecurity that humans feel created culture and religion, and then culture and religion are used to salvage, to oppress, to exclude.

“The queer are the mirror reflecting the heterosexual tribe’s fear: being different, being other and therefore lesser, therefore sub-human, in-human, non-human.” I even think when I was reading that if culture itself is a form of discrimination: As we classify what is or is not within our culture, we define what is excluded too. Culture may not be able to protect its own people without harming the others, or can it be?

The choice is clear, as Anzaluda says, either to be feel a victim or to feel strong and in control. So is it to feel secure within ourselves, we can resist to what oppress us?

She later on argues that language is the core to individual’s identity. “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity–I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.” Until one can take pride in him or herself, one can be strong and in control. “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react,” she writes.

In order to solve the problems created by modernity, Eurocentricism and imperialism, we need to move towards “a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes.” We need to tolerate, and to meet in the middle. We need to acknowledge the differences of each other’s way of living. We need to create this new value system that connect us to each other and to the planet because “nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.”

The solution is internal: we need to be less individualistic and more communistic. Because if we contribute to the greatness of the whole, each one of us will achieve more. Collectivism, or communism (without any political implication) is a more advanced individualism in the end.