“The Trophies of Their Wars”: Affect and encounter at the Canadian War Museum
2013. “The Trophies of Their Wars”: Affect and Encounter at the Canadian War
Museum. Museum Management and Curatorship, p1-17.DOI:10.1080/09647775.2013.807994
This paper explores the concept of the war trophy in relation to two exhibits at the Canadian War Museum: a black Mercedes-Benz bulletproof limousine that was once used by Hilter as a parade car and Gertrude Kearns (1996) painting Somalia Without Conscience, an image that depicts Master Corporal Clayton Matchee posing besidetortured Somali teenager Shidane Arone. A central preoccupation of the paper is how to encounter and think with the affective realm of experience when the narrative encounter at the museum is one that represents difficult histories of social devastation, violence and war. I investigate free association as a method of cultural analysis that can attend to the affective force of the social encounter. To do so I propose a fictive exhibit that brings thecar into conversation with the painting and consider how the embodied subjects of war are constructed in the presence of memorial space. Finally, I comment on how visitor responses to the car and the painting open new questions with regard to the mandate of the museum to remember, to preserve and to educate.
Keywords: Canadian War Museum, Gertrude Kearns, war, memory, trophy, affect, precarity, free association