The Holocaust and animation may seem in tension with one another. The Holocaust was one of the most devastating events in Twentieth-Century European history, while animation is usually associated with childhood fun and fantasy. However, there are an increasing number of animations that confront the Holocaust. Surprisingly, very little has been written about these works. Considering the rhetoric about appropriate Holocaust representation, it seems peculiar that these animations have been mostly ignored by the academic community and yet the format has been adopted by several stakeholders in Holocaust commemoration and education such as the Anne Frank Trust, UK and Yad Vashem, Israel without debate (considering that the format seems so in tension with the subject matter).
There is more to films that confront the Holocaust than questions of appropriateness. The representational values that approaches concerned with this issue take as their foci, underplay the significance of medium specificity. In this presentation I will focus on the material specificity of animations that confront this difficult past. The Holocaust can be considered a difficult past in many ways: in relation to survivor trauma, familiar and affiliative postmemory and the integration of the Holocaust into national or ideological narratives. Adopting a phenomenological model, I claim that the presence of the animated body – its particular expression of intentionality – draws attention to specific issues related to these different scenarios. I will discuss a variety of animated works produced by a survivor, with survivors, contemporary younger generations and nations that might at first seem particularly distant from the Holocaust. In acknowledging the presence of the animated body, I argue that these Holocaust animations not only attempt to re-present this past in their diegeses, but also draw attention to specific difficulties related to confronting the Holocaust through their material engagements with this past.
5.15pm, Wednesday 16th December, Arts One G34, to be followed by Christmas drinks