Tracing cultural memory in the work of Adriana Corral

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Butts, Emily Lauren

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Using ash and soil as her primary mediums, Adriana Corral presents loss by using what remains when matter is taken to its most basic form: the earth that we stand on and the burned remnants of what has been. To create ashes, Corral burns lists of victims’ names, or more frequently, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gesturing toward gross human rights abuses, corruption, and state violence prevalent along the US-Mexico border, and a document’s inability to protect against it. She burns these documents and presents them as abstractions of themselves, appearing only as a fleeting trace of what used to be. In contrast to her portrayals of erasure, Corral incorporates the hypervisible emblems of nationhood into her practice: specifically, the flag under which people gather, and the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, representing the country’s mindset of hemispheric dominance that relies on designating some people and groups invisible. This thesis seeks to interrogate both how the notion of erasure circulates within visual culture, and how we, as viewers, receive it



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