This book explores the ceremonial role of art in expressing the concerning consequences of traumatic events. The author, who introduced the phrase “cultures of trauma” in 1993 to describe the situation in Romania and other Eastern European countries following the Velvet Revolutions in 1989, discusses traumatic dissociation, doubling, and metaphors for dissociated personality in the work of five artists: Istvan Kantor, Franz West, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Larry Miller, and Yoko Ono. This introduction analyzes the Upper Paleolithic paintings in what is known as the Shaft of the Dead Man, a shaft located in the extensive underground cave at Lascaux in southwestern France, and situates the shaft scene's imagery as a cornerstone of visual representations of trauma that belong not to modernism but to deep time. Also considered is Ai Weiwei's Marble Chair (2008), trauma studies in art history, and the importance of biography in writing about trauma.
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