Gastcollege: Artistic Visions in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Guest lecturer: Tania L. Abramson, MFA & Paul R. Abramson, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)

When: March 20th from 17:00 – 18:00h
Where: Room 5A47, Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden University

Please register as an indication of the attendance by means of the following link:


Artists who have implausibly found the resolve to depict inconceivable misery – rape, human trafficking, torture, child sexual abuse, war – in a singularly creative manner are heroes and heroines of indomitable human wills. The question, then, is how do we conceptualize the aesthetic impact of their artworks? Do tragic narratives matter? If knowledge modifies aesthetic judgement, then the delineation of adversity most certainly influences visual perception. This is especially notable in curated Holocaust memorials where the ghastly artifacts and unfathomable story lines are intrinsic to their aesthetic force. The point simply is that when accompanied by concomitant narration, the language of artistic representation manifested in the aftermath of tragedy is especially incisive to viewers, as well as instrumental to the enduring value of artworks. Rembrandt, Christ on the cross, Dachau Concentration Camp memorial, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, analogic thinking, and child sexual abuse are discussed herein.

About the Speakers:

Tania Love Abramson is a conceptually focused visual artist, lecturer, writer and performer, and a survivor of chronic childhood sexual abuse ( Tania lectures internationally and in the US, and is the author of two books. Shame and the Eternal Abyss explores the dual experiences of shame and dissociation through Tania’s art and poetic commentary. Concern is an obliquely crafted narrative, in photographs, poetic structure, and note, of the definitional nuances in the word concern. Concern is the first volume in a series of books tied loosely together by ambiguous words and experiences. Tania is currently working on a graphic memoir that combines drawings, poetry and prose.

Paul Richard Abramson is a UCLA psychology professor, expert witness, author, and musician. His books on sexuality transfigure conventional wisdom while offering timeless escape from ideologues and bigots. Classic examples include: With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality; Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness; Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience; Sex Appeal: Six Ethical Principles of the 21st Century; and Screwing Around with Sex: Essays, Indictments, Anecdotes, and Asides. Paul’s books on sexual trauma (Sarah: A Sexual Biography and A House Divided: Suspicions of Mother-daughter Incest) are, alternatively, daunting case studies that delve deeply into the torments and psychological residuum of incest and sexual abuse, as well as the mercurial infrastructure of child sexual abuse accusations. Paul’s art is evident in two domains: his music (Crying 4 Kafka) and his drawings, the latter of which have illustrated several books.

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