On European Ground

Overview

A profound visual meditation on the trauma that scars twentieth-century Europe, Alan Cohen's On European Ground considers the battlefields of World War I, the Nazi death camps, and the Berlin Wall, and records the distance between what we remember about these places and what we can still observe in them today. By walking these sites and photographing the very ground in which their history has dissolved, Cohen opens a space for reflection on their complex gravity and legacy.

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2001 Hardcover New 0226112942. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--144 pp. With 94 ills. 26 x 24 cm.

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Overview

A profound visual meditation on the trauma that scars twentieth-century Europe, Alan Cohen's On European Ground considers the battlefields of World War I, the Nazi death camps, and the Berlin Wall, and records the distance between what we remember about these places and what we can still observe in them today. By walking these sites and photographing the very ground in which their history has dissolved, Cohen opens a space for reflection on their complex gravity and legacy.

Cohen's images achieve a solemn beauty even as they engage history at its most topical. Pictures of trenches and bunkers at the battlefields of Somme and Verdun explore the tension between the violence of the past and the inscrutability of its remnants. Photographs from the grounds of Dachau and Auschwitz solicit a provocative dialogue between the ordinariness of these sites today and their haunting memory. They teach us, as the New Art Examiner notes, "that the living perceptual connection to the Holocaust is vanishing." Images of the Berlin Wall show only the footprint of the barricade that once separated two hostile ideologies. They record the physical erosion and looming disappearance of the Wall while capturing its reappearance as a memorialized abstraction.

Accompanying the photographs in On European Ground are essays by Sander Gilman and Jonathan Bordo, as well as an interview with Cohen by critic Roberta Smith of the New York Times. The essays present both an introduction to and aesthetic analysis of Cohen's work, while the interview discusses the intractable problems of history and memory that his photographs so uniquely capture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226112947
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Cohen is an adjunct associate professor of art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as a visiting professor at DePaul University. His work is held in more than fifty public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Sander L. Gilman is a distinguished professor of the liberal arts and medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago and the director of the Humanities Laboratory. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of more than sixty books. His most recent monograph, Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery, appeared in 1999.

Jonathan Bordo teaches aesthetic theory and philosophy in the Cultural Studies Program at Trent University, Canada. His recent essays include "Picture and Witness at the Site of the Wilderness" in Critical Inquiry (winter 2000). Bordo is completing a monograph titled The Landscape without a Witness and a collection of writing in aesthetic theory and the visual arts.

Roberta Smith is an art critic for The New York Times.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
David Mickenberg
Alan Cohen's Surfaces of History
Sander L. Gilman
Photographs Phantoms Interview: Alan Cohen and Roberta Smith Notes on the Photographs Acknowledgments About the Photographers and Authors

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