Sofía Ocaña Urwitz: The unrepresentable and non-representation Understanding the nature of these concepts, how to work with them and with the spaces of resistance they provide.

Advisor/tutor: Jorinde Seijdel
Independent reviewer: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Arnhem, June 2014


My thesis attempts to delve into the notion of the un-representable and nonrepresentation. I wanted to understand what constitutes something as unrepresentable and what could be seen as negative or positive about it.

I believe that in our contemporary context (technological and socio-political) it is very important to consider how we understand representational regimes, their basis and how they have been slowly shaped through cultural production. I have approached and explored in many ways and through many disciplines (theory, audiovisual, art, philosophy, etc) the possibilities that this complex notion offers. Also using these ideas in my practice has helped me to approach in a different way the un-representable.

This thesis is the beginning of what I think could be a long investigation. I believe that we should repositioning ourselves towards the un-representable and to start thinking about it as a resistance, as an alternative able to provide new languages, images, etc.


Rhetorically turning Wittgenstein's last paragraph of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus into a question – "Must one remain silent of what one cannot speak of?" – Ocaña Urwitz answers with a bold "No." Her Master's Thesis offers an initial, albeit rich and multi-faceted exploration, situated within her own current artistic research, of the broad theoretical, art-historical, and philosophical field of both linguistic and visual non-representation and the unpresentable. Referring to different art works, a wide variety of texts from authors such as Arendt, Lyotard, and Rancière, and a number of films, including Welles's "F for Fake, "Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah," and the work of Julian Rosefeldt, she offers a critique of models that base the unrepresentable on solely trauma, which would reintroduce the mystical in the heart of non-representation. Instead, Ocaña Urwitz invited us to explore the possibilities of turning the unrepresentable, and its myriad non-manifestations, into that which generates sites and modes of resistance, as a point of "historical transition from one regime to another," be they political or artistic in character. This is, however, not theorized as a finite or determinate process, but rather as an ongoing investigation in which "every act of illumination implies the creation of new shadows." VWJvGO