CONtext . Digital Prints . Jo-Anne Green . 2004

CONtext is a series of digital prints about state violence and physical pain, political agendas and surgical procedures. It explores the use of words and images in war, science, and art, and considers the role of memory/remembering in the perpetuation (pattern making) of human suffering. The series considers how:

1. Photographs, trusted by many to convey factual accounts, are used to political advantage; and how they continue to assault the senses despite their ubiquity.

"Photographs have the kind of authority over imagination today, which the printed word had yesterday, and the spoken word before that. They seem utterly real." (Walter Lipmann, 1922)

"There are hundreds of millions of television watchers who…do not have the luxury of patronizing reality." (Susan Sontag)

2. Language is used to: disconnect words from deeds; obscure meaning and skew truth; manipulate and conjure images that lie; and create the necessary environment for torture and killing.

3. Pain destroys language.

"…intense pain (is) experienced spatially as either the contraction of the universe down to the immediate vicinity of the body or as the body swelling to fill the entire universe. Intense pain is also language-destroying: as the content of one's world disintegrates… so that which would express and project the self is robbed of its source and its subject." (Elaine Scarry)

4. The repetition of violent words/images can destroy their ugliness and even seduce the reader/viewer; how revenge is cyclical and leads to patterns of violence with no end; and how anything repeated often enough can take on an air of truth.

5. Who we are impacts how we remember, and that recalling a photograph is often mistaken for remembering an event.

"Encoding and remembering are virtually inseparable…We remember only what we have encoded, and what we encode depends on who we are-our past experience, knowledge, and needs all have a powerful influence on what we retain." (Daniel Schacter)

Note: The photographs that form the basis for these images were taken during a procedure called an OsteoArticular Transfer System (OATS) – a surgical method of repairing articular cartilage defects with hylane cartilage – which was performed on my right knee in 2003.

Added on November 6, 2020: Eula, Biss. The Pain Scale, Seneca Review,

CONtext Sources
Christel, P. , Versier, G. , Landreau, Ph. , and Djian, P. "Osteochondral Grafting using the Mosaicplasty Technique"

Scarry, Elaine. "The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World," Oxford University Press, 1985

Schacter, Daniel L. "Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind, and the Past," Basic Books, 1997

Shanker, Tom. "Words of War," The New York Times

Sontag, Susan. "Regarding the Pain of Others," Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003

Watt, Nicholas and McCarthy, Rory. "Language of War: Decoding the Jargon of War," The Guardian, 2004

Endoscopic photographs of OATS procedure performed on the artist, October 6, 2003

Miscellaneous photographs from various sources, including Johan Kuus
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