Creative Approaches to Memory NUBS 4.23
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.11. Performance and memory practices NUBS 4.23 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Displaced Hair: Loss and Remembrance in Contemporary Art
Individual paperCreative Approaches to Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
This paper traces uses of hair in contemporary art focusing on its relation to memory. Hair is used in many rituals and different cultures have different ways of using it as memorabilia (Victorian mourning jewellery is one such example). However, beyond functioning as a piece of a person/loved one to be kept, hair is often used in contemporary art utilising its transgressive, uncanny nature, its relation to body and gender as well as its literal relation to our DNA. Hair is loaded with meaning and conveys multitudes of relations (age, health, race, religion etc). Using these attributes of hair, many artists also utilised hair to speak of memory and mourning as well as resistance to the erasure of individual and collective memories. 
This talk will focus on works by three different artists who use hair to speak of and speak to specific histories of violence: Doris Salcedo's Unland (1995-98), Mona Hatoum's Recolection (1995) and series of recent works by the Kurdish artist Fatos Irwen. Speaking of the memory of Columbian civil war, Palestinian displacement and Kurdish struggle, all three artists utilise hair as a vessel of memory in their works.  
Hair, unlike many other materials used in creative processes, comes loaded with meaning.  As Tamar Garb notes writing on Hatoum's work, hair is "loaded with references to custom and culture, sexuality and gender" and as such it is a signifier that "disturbs the stylisation and rhetorical devices of art by registering the obdurate physicality of the body" (Garb, 271)[1]. These works utilise hair's transgressive qualities by decontextualising and recontextualising hair, and as such they are powerful commentaries on loss and collective memory. 
Although each artist comments on a very specific historical context and memory violence that ensued, it is hair that threads through these works which this talk will engage with. 
[1] Garb, Tamar. "Hairlines" in Women Artists at the Millennium (eds Carol Armstrong and Catherine de Zegher). Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2006.

Ozlem Koksal
Senior Lecturer, University Of Westminster
Forgetting Songs, Remembering the Past: Sound and Memory Politics in China
Individual paperCreative Approaches to Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
Music and song are cultural products with specific mnemonic qualities. Especially when connected to meaningful events and moments in our lives, they can help us to navigate back in time and remember even episodes that we wanted or hoped to forget. In this regard, recorded songs are particularly powerful, because they preserve the original sound, can be individually possessed, and are ready to be endlessly repeated at any time and place.
The People's Republic of China has a long tradition of using song and sound for commemoration and political propaganda, while simultaneously eliminating unwanted sounds in the public sphere by means of censorship. Deeply embedded in the past and closely aligned to the changes in official historiography, the sonic heritage of different periods and generations needs to be scrutinized and evaluated, to select a canon of "red songs" supportive to the construction of a specific historical and political memory. 
The presentation introduces the canon and identifies songs that serve as sonic sites of memory. Effectively promoted, they are also meant to drown the unfavourable sounds of past and present. Sonic forgetting is infeasible to publicize and with regard to recorded sound virtually impossible to achieve, yet it is a strategy to either ignore or challenge, if not change individual and cultural memory.

Andreas Steen
Professor, Aarhus University
Telling tales for Survival: memories, stories and performances of Bonbibi worship in the Sundarbans
Individual paperCreative Approaches to Memory 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/07 22:00:00 UTC
The mangrove forests of the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta provide many sources of livelihood for the communities living on its fringes. One such source of income is honey, gathered from wild bee colonies by local people, an extremely risky occupation as the forest is home to Bengal Tigers, crocodiles and snakes, and vulnerable to dramatic and sudden changes in the weather. The relationship between honey gatherers and the forest landscape is one of both fear and respect which manifests in a rich cultural heritage of spiritual beliefs and practices focusing on the goddess Bonbibi. The forest stretches across Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal and communities, both Hindus and Muslims, worship Bonbibi, asking for protection at shrines and temples, and relaying her story through performances, rituals and recitations, at festivals and community theatre renditions in villages across the delta. Bonbibi's story brings together multiple memories from across national and religious boundaries, revealing many historical and contemporary relationships with a fluid and fragile environment increasingly under threat from climate crisis and global pressures.
Working with delta-based artists and Sundarbans honey-gathering communities in both India and Bangladesh, this paper examines how the performance and celebration of the goddess at public festivals and in private practices within local communities contributes to the sustainability of the delta, in particular through understandings of local ecological knowledge, and in emphasising the intricate relationships between humans, non-humans and landscapes. We argue that this cultural practice brings together many voices and represents many memories of relationships with place, creating opportunities through performance and ritual to consider contemporary change within a historical context and the role of Bonbibi, and the honey-gatherers, in the sustainable future of the Sundarbans and its inhabitants.  
Professor Maggie Roe 
Swastik Pal
Shehzad Chowdhury
Dr Souvanic Roy 
Presenters Niki Black
Senior RA, Newcastle University
Maggie Roe
Professor Of Landscape, Newcastle University, School Of Architecture, Planning & Landscape
Senior Lecturer
University of Westminster
Aarhus University
Senior RA
Newcastle University
Aarhus University
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