Jenelle Davis

Excerpt from Jenelle's proposal.

My research project examines the difference and tension between traditional memorials (by which I mean state and corporate-sponsored structures) and personal or community-based commemorations, which are often ephemeral, highly personal and follow an aesthetic impulse of their own, independent of traditional forms My argument is that global communication networks have made catastrophes – natural, social and political – visible to an extent never before witnessed. Furthermore, I argue that this visibility has resulted in the production of large-scale, permanent, corporate and state-funded structures geared towards an observant international audience, at the expense of smaller, independently funded structures intended for locally-affected communities. However, this is not to say that temporary, fluid and personal or community-based commemorative actions have disappeared. In fact, community-based memorials continue to thrive, in many ways functioning as a corrective to their bombastic official counterparts. And while my dissertation examines both traditional and personal commemorative practices, my emphasis is on how locally-attuned practices attend to the needs of private mourners and affected communities. Furthermore, I will reflect on how a global alertness to tragic events has compelled diverse members of the international artistic community to join in the commemorative impulse and to contextualize tragedy in their own work.