Hans Bellmer and the experience of violence
This dissertation is largely an analysis of Hans Bellmer's work and an investigation of aspects of violence. Violence in Bellmer's work opens up a space for some comparison with other forms of violence expressed through theory, literature, art. My dissertation is made up of two parts. Part One: Hans Bellmer consists of two chapters. The first chapter contains a discussion of nineteenth-century ijerman works centred on the figure of the automaton. Nineteenth-century automata influenced Bellmer and constitute one form of violence, Bellmer's dolls constitute another, as I show. In chapter two I concentrate on Bellmer's perverse images of his dolls. I base my analysis of Bellmer's perverse doll-images mainly on Gilles Deleuze's definition of sadism and masochism, on Bellmer's writings, on Jacques Lacan's concept of le corps morcele, including images of Bellmer's last partner Unica Zurn. Part Two: The Experience of Violence is made up of one chapter. There I discuss Bellmer's dolls as a particular figuration of the feminine analysed through Walter Benjamin's ideas of le corps-femme de la modernite. I then link Bellmer's corps-femme with those in Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Otto Dix's paintings via Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. From there I go onto a discussion of the concepts that visually and literally constitute violence in Bellmer such as fragmentation, traces, time, memory through the work of Claudio Parmiggiani, and other Benjaminian ideas. Parmiggiani explores the effects of these concepts in his work exposing them as part of the artwork as its objects. I conclude that the violence in Bellmer's work is about pain and takes the form of masochism. I also conclude that violence takes on different forms, one form of which is thinking and memory, another is the analysis and interpretation of artworks.