how does someone embody political evil? is it possible to grieve for their having fallen into that space? and how do we represent all this?
These questions are at the heart of the short dance-based visual short Grievable // Ungrievable. The film was produced as part of my work leading the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative. Based on a project I conceptualized as part of VIPRE, a group of Interdisciplinary MA students (Aline Wani, Maevia Griffiths, Massimiliano Massini) collaborated with a dancer, and choreographer (Alexane Poggi), film-maker (Benoît Ecoiffier), and sound designer (Dorian Voos) to translate the conceptual and empirical core of my work on political violence into visual form.
The short film represents the process through which an individual ‘slips’ towards carrying out acts of torture, and the paradoxical psychological harm this imposes upon perpetrators. It does so through the practice of dance. This is especially pertinent given the longstanding historical linkages between dance and violence, as most prominently articulated in military cultures of drilling. But it also operates at a conceptual level, describing the processes of ‘disconnection’ and ‘pre-acceleration’ that characterize the practice of dance.
While representing a deeply controversial topic – both socially and scientifically – the short film delicately questions whether or not we can ‘grieve’ for the ways in which violence emerges beyond a narrow understanding of its deliberate or purposeful enaction. It was a pleasure to collaborate on this project, which will form part of a broader exhibition of VIPRE’s work (COVID-permitting) in 2021 or 2022.
You can watch Grievable // Ungrievable below.
Grievable // Ungrievable is largely based on my social scientific work interviewing perpetrators of torture and studying its deep microsociological dynamics. A description of that work can be found across my scientific publications, including in that below published at the International Review of the Red Cross.