8. GRAVEN IMAGES: “THE HART ISLAND PROJECT”

and

Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens

ISBN: 978-0-76231-151-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-304-4

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 30 December 2004

Abstract

When historical visibility has faded, when the present tense of testimony loses its power to arrest, then the displacements of memory and the indirections of art offer us the image of our psychic survival. To live in the unhomely world, to find its ambivalencies and ambiguities enacted in the house of fiction, or its sundering and splitting performed in the work of art, is also to affirm a profound desire for social solidarity: ‘I am looking for the join…I want to join…I want to join’ (Bhabha, 1994, p. 18).This chapter follows points and practices of cultural and legal suture. My aim is to trace a thematic excursion into the unremarked or culturally unseen spaces that repeatedly inter dead bodies. This task is rewarded by aesthetic practice excavating a site of repression, a site that confesses our flight from, but necessary management of, dead bodies within cultural spaces. To achieve this, my attention turns to a State-owned graveyard on Hart Island, located in Long Island Sound, New York. Hart Island is a graveyard for New York’s poor, unclaimed or unknown dead – what is commonly known as a “potter’s field.”1 It is a place where law and art intersect in remarkable absence of any significant cultural claim on the island, and it is a landscape where the failings of forensic conclusion are now mingling with an aesthetic revelation.

Citation

Bray, R. (2004), "8. GRAVEN IMAGES: “THE HART ISLAND PROJECT”", Kenyon, A. and Rush, P. (Ed.) Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 179-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1059-4337(04)34008-1

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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