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Richard Flanagan’s novel, The Unknown Terrorist, does not only depict terrorism and violence but especially contemporary postmodern life in an Australian urban setting influenced by media, information technologies and consumerism. Drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulacra and simulation, this paper analyses Flanagan’s depiction especially of the main character, the Doll, and the way she symbolically represents various aspects of the process of simulation as understood by Baudrillard. In this context, the Doll and other characters are understood as subjects both manipulating and manipulated by the simulated image of reality represented by media and technology, the image which replaces physical reality. The imagery of manipulation is understood as a metaphor implying a critique of hypocrisy and consumerism of the contemporary urban setting in the technologically advanced society represented by the Australian city of Sydney.
In an increasingly globalized and digitalized world, where the advancement of technologies and media constructions oversimplify and manipulate public beliefs and shared knowledge, the artistic sector seems to provide new networks of solidarity, collaboration and interaction that challenge a world dominated by conflicts and cultural shocks. Against this backdrop, acts of translation within the arts bear witness to humanity and become the ultimate ground for subjective expression and fundamental reflections upon individualist attitudes against migration issues. By putting emphasis on the role of translation in its political transfer of migration into the arts, this investigation draws attention to a recent corpus of works of art that testifies to the modalities by means of which the creative cultural industries are contributing to giving voice to migration not just as transruption and memory, but as an inclusive form of movement and communication. In Notes on the Exodus by Richard Flanagan, with illustrations by Ben Quilty (2016), and in the arts installations Call Me By My Name and All I Left Behind. All I Will Discover (London, 2017), translation intervenes as an instrument of cross-cultural collaboration and solidarity, resistance and dissent, and also demonstrates to what extent stories of migration can interact within art forms and be performed as acts of translation involving processes of (re)narration and (re)framing of identities.
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