“Persistent Recall: War, Feminist Psychoanalysis and Tracey Moffatt’s Doomed,” Moving Image Review & Art Journal, vol. 4. no. 1-2 (December 2015), 78-89.
In this article, I argue that Doomed (2007), a ten-minute montage of appropriated disaster footage by Australian artist Tracey Moffatt, offers a unique response to the War on Terror. I compare Moffatt’s piece to the traditional critical readings attributed to artistic deployment of found footage, and consider Doomed in relation to art historian Rosalyn Deutsche’s enquiry into what artists can offer in a time of war. Deutsche uses feminist psychoanalysis to champion Silvia Kolbowski’s video After Hiroshima Mon Amour (2008) as an attempt to destabilize the ‘us versus them’ thinking that perpetuates war. In contrast, I focus on how Moffatt turns to Hollywood-produced action scenes as a way to highlight societal and individual compulsions toward repetition and urges to displace internal anxieties and fears onto others. By appropriating disaster footage, Moffatt creates an opportunity for viewers to consider the repeating patterns of this filmic collective unconscious and the futility of our historic attempts to fully repress the drives it satisfies. Doomed suggests that, rather than finding a way out of binary thinking, video art can highlight the fallacy of cinematic catharsis as a way of ‘working through’ these issues. Acknowledging that we may never be able to rid ourselves of aggressive impulses or fear of the other, Moffatt’s video encourages societal self-reflection and renewed awareness that these psychic forces may be at work when next we find ourselves on the brink of war.