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Fatal Aesthetics : A study on the theatrical representation of the public execution in the Islamic State's Palmyra execution video

Hoogkamer, Loes LU (2016) KOVM12 20161
Division of Art History and Visual Studies
Abstract
Since the rise of the Islamic State the world has seen a proliferation of public executions in which spectacle and theatricality have come to play an important role. Their propaganda has adopted an aesthetic style in which violence is openly displayed, celebrated and glorified.
This thesis explores the role that aesthetics has in the performed and mediated execution videos of the Islamic State, by analysing the ISIS execution video that was recorded in the amphitheatre of the Ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in May 2015. The first part of the thesis is focussed on the execution as a visual spectacle within a mass-cultural tradition of display and theatricality, by discussing theory of 17th and 18th century executions in Europe. This will be... (More)
Since the rise of the Islamic State the world has seen a proliferation of public executions in which spectacle and theatricality have come to play an important role. Their propaganda has adopted an aesthetic style in which violence is openly displayed, celebrated and glorified.
This thesis explores the role that aesthetics has in the performed and mediated execution videos of the Islamic State, by analysing the ISIS execution video that was recorded in the amphitheatre of the Ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in May 2015. The first part of the thesis is focussed on the execution as a visual spectacle within a mass-cultural tradition of display and theatricality, by discussing theory of 17th and 18th century executions in Europe. This will be followed by a discussion on the cinematic representation of executions and its effect on spectatorship. The second part will be placing the ISIS execution videos within the contemporary debate on the relation between the image and violence, by discussing the ISIS propaganda in relation to the work of Jean Baudrillard and Susan Sontag. Finally in the third part an in depth visual analysis is conducted on the Palmyra execution video, in which the role and function of aesthetics is fully explored. A study on the aesthetics of the Palmyra video resulted in the findings that the video is fully immersed in a complex set of different political, cultural, religious and historical discourses. By hijacking cinematic tropes and incorporating a theatrical ritualistic narrative, the Islamic State reintroduces a performed violence that trivialises and challenges the notions of spectatorship and enables them to showcase and sell their fantasies and controversial ideas. (Less)
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author
Hoogkamer, Loes LU
supervisor
organization
course
KOVM12 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Aesthetics, Public executions, Islamic State, Palmyra, Spectatorship
language
English
id
8877346
date added to LUP
2016-10-10 08:13:07
date last changed
2016-10-10 08:13:07
@misc{8877346,
  abstract     = {Since the rise of the Islamic State the world has seen a proliferation of public executions in which spectacle and theatricality have come to play an important role. Their propaganda has adopted an aesthetic style in which violence is openly displayed, celebrated and glorified.
This thesis explores the role that aesthetics has in the performed and mediated execution videos of the Islamic State, by analysing the ISIS execution video that was recorded in the amphitheatre of the Ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in May 2015. The first part of the thesis is focussed on the execution as a visual spectacle within a mass-cultural tradition of display and theatricality, by discussing theory of 17th and 18th century executions in Europe. This will be followed by a discussion on the cinematic representation of executions and its effect on spectatorship. The second part will be placing the ISIS execution videos within the contemporary debate on the relation between the image and violence, by discussing the ISIS propaganda in relation to the work of Jean Baudrillard and Susan Sontag. Finally in the third part an in depth visual analysis is conducted on the Palmyra execution video, in which the role and function of aesthetics is fully explored. A study on the aesthetics of the Palmyra video resulted in the findings that the video is fully immersed in a complex set of different political, cultural, religious and historical discourses. By hijacking cinematic tropes and incorporating a theatrical ritualistic narrative, the Islamic State reintroduces a performed violence that trivialises and challenges the notions of spectatorship and enables them to showcase and sell their fantasies and controversial ideas.},
  author       = {Hoogkamer, Loes},
  keyword      = {Aesthetics,Public executions,Islamic State,Palmyra,Spectatorship},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Fatal Aesthetics : A study on the theatrical representation of the public execution in the Islamic State's Palmyra execution video},
  year         = {2016},
}