Active Viewership and Ethical Representation: Responsible Spectatorship in Alfredo Jaar’s “Real Pictures” and Gil Courtemanche’s Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali

Angela Ritter


In its discussion of Gil Courtemanche’s Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali and Alfredo Jaar’s installation of “Real Pictures,” both of which are representations of the Rwandan Genocide, this analysis contributes to a larger discussion on ethical representations of violence. Generally the discussion of the ethics of representation analyzes the ways in which the author or artist portrays the violent events. It focuses on the importance of the historical and political context when describing the events, as well as on the ways in which the author or artist avoids the potential objectifying or dehumanizing effects of representations on the victims, as well as, the perpetrators. This article highlights another important element to be considered in the study of ethical representations- that of how the reader is engaged in the representation and as a result may or may not contribute to stereotypes, objectification, and other negative consequences possible when representing violence. Those who represent violence must not only consider ethical implications with their own interactions with the event and text or image, but also how they encourage their audience to interact with them.   

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