n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Impossible mourning : HIV/AIDS and visuality after apartheid, Kylie Thomas (2014) : book review

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



In her book, Impossible mourning, Kylie Thomas argues that although HIV/AIDS has been established as a central public discourse in South Africa during the last decade, the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS remain largely invisible. Moreover, the manifold losses, sorrows and deaths owing to AIDS are publicly unmourned. For Thomas (2014:9), the failure to mourn the '1,000 people who die of AIDS in South Africa each day' testifies to the fact that their lives were 'as invisible within public memory as their deaths'. As a significant resource to contest such forms, acts and discourses of invisibility, Thomas explores a number of artworks produced by visual artists. Accordingly, the 'book makes an argument for how visual forms of representation can allow for powerful, evocative and transformative modes of engagement with traumatic experience' (Thomas 2014:5). An exemplary feature of Thomas's argument is a discerning, sharp and sensitive awareness of the complexity of visual forms of representation. Thus while the book engages with a number of artworks to explore mourning and trauma, it is equally concerned with how people with HIV/AIDS are represented.

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