State of Disappearance
Featuring nearly 80 new and original works, this dedicated series of works produced between 2017-2020 addresses the relationship between violence and human disappearance.
STATE OF DISAPPEARANCE will be published as part of the Outspoken series with McGill-Queens University Press in fall 2021. Bringing some of the most critically minded thinkers dealing with the question of violence in the world, State of Disappearance will be the very first volume of its kind to deal specifically with the problem of human disappearance from a truly trans-disciplinary perspective. Edited by Professor Brad Evans and accompanied by the artwork of the Mexican abstract painter Chantal Meza, the project will bring attention to the many ways disappearance occurs, and in the process ask about the importance or limits of the arts, humanities and critical enquiry when in comes to responding to the problem of violence in the world today.
The political philosopher Brad Evans & abstract artist Chantal Meza discuss their state of disappearance project
A brief Poetic Introduction to the State of Disappearance Project
The State of Disappearance is part of the Histories of Violence project. The full project can be found in here
Disappearance is at the extreme ends of human denial. There is perhaps no greater terror to be subjected than to vanish without a trace. Still what do we actually mean by the term disappearance? And how might it expose the limits of our political, philosophical and aesthetic understanding? We know individual peoples and entire groups can be forcibly removed from the planet. And we also know human lives are sometimes rendered so absent from any universe of obligation they are denied any right to a dignified existence. But do we need to rethink the terms of engagement? How, for instance, might we better respond to such a terrifying state of denial – the absence of presence, not only to overcome the manipulation of a truth and the denial of justice, but to raise serious questions about the hidden order of violence and its effective normalisation.
While disappearance is undoubtedly terrifying for its victims and families, there is a need to reimagine the term disappearance itself within a more considered and intimate frame – accounting for terror which lives on in the minds of everybody it touches, not only to focus attention on the absence of bodies, but to also consider broader issues on the roles between perpetrators, victims and witnesses, onto the ways it forces a fundamental rupture in the logics of space and time. It is only by addressing it on these terms that we might be able to ask serious questions about what role art and critical thinking have when confronting this devastating problem, which by its very definition, exceeds the limits of aesthetic and philosophical engagement on account of its very absence and denials.
STATE OF DISAPPEARANCE is a collaborative response to the problem of human denial. Bringing together critical theory with contemporary art, the project will bring attention to the many ways disappearance occurs, and in the process ask about the importance or limits of the arts, humanities and critical enquiry when in comes to responding to the problem of violence in the world today. In doing so, the project offers an original and pressing intervention, which takes us into the heart of any meaningful discussion on what it means to be human and will encourage us to confront more critically what freedom in the face of its total annihilation means.
Brad Evans & Chantal Meza at a workshop in UCC, Ireland "The Center for Mexican Studies" 2020
Dealing with the State of Disappearance through the four elements
F I R E | W A T E R | E A R T H | A I R