Creative Approaches to Memory NUBS 4.25
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.12. Memory and sensory approaches NUBS 4.25 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Memories of Joy: Pasolini’s Ragazzi di vita and Jasieński’s Bal manekinów
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
Discussions of irrelevance, disappearance, and obsolescence are often couched in terms of nostalgia and trauma, or at the very least, as scholars attempt to overcome the nostalgic tendency in thinking about disappearance, in terms of remembering as a future-oriented practice. As we grapple with narrating the climate crisis, "tragedy," a literary term integrated into everyday language, becomes a dominant narrative form for describing disappearance (Wenzel 2019, 15). In this paper, I look at two literary approaches to cultural obsolescence which center joy as an alternative narrative mode and a political force able to temporarily withstand the sweep of modernity which makes entire cultures disappear. In Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1955 novel Ragazzi di vita (The Street Kids) and Bruno Jasieński's 1931 play, Bal manekinów (The Mannequins' Ball), the authors embrace joy and laughter as a performance of class differentiation by their folk and proletarian protagonists. Peasant characters who proudly confront the bourgeois in the contact zone of Italian postwar suburbs, and the "healthy, proletarian laughter" of workers, which Jasieński postulated at the Soviet writers Congress in 1934, offer a reversal of the nostalgic and tragic narrative mode. Although acutely aware of the untenability of what they were proposing (i.e., undoing the disappearance of separate class cultures in Italy, or injecting aesthetic diversity into socialist realism, respectively), both writers maintained a sense of political commitment. Reading Ragazzi di vita and Bal manekinów in parallel, I argue that both writers offer an alternative form of remembering disappearance through memories of joy, understood as both aesthetic and political, telling a story of a historical encounter just prior to disappearance of an entire culture or ideological formation. Importantly, both writers approach this with no regard for the future thereby abandoning the teleological pessimism that dominates narratives about disappearance. Instead, they opt for a synchronic, non-future-oriented approach that examines joy in its present moment, with full appreciation for the brief political effects it produces.
Presenters
KR
Krzysztof Rowiński
Assistant Professor In Polish Studies, Trinity College Dublin
“Time is an ocean” – aquatic metaphors of time and memory
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
To remember the past is not only to recall some fragmentary images of the past – it is also to recall time as continuous movement. The privileged figure of time in its movement is water, the element of continuity and flowing. Linear time is often imagined as a river, flowing from one direction to another. However, one can also find images of oceanic time, or images that take us below the surface, referring to dreamlike space of distorted reflections where time has many directions. Moreover, is water not also a figure of oblivion, memories sinking into depths or rain washing the traces of the past with them? And how does time freeze, become solid in form of documents and narratives?
In my research project, I am analyzing how some material metaphors of temporality affect our conceptualizations of memory. In this paper, I am going to concentrate on some well-known aquatic metaphors. I am going to analyze what philosophical, ethical, and political implications do metaphors like "river of time" or "time is an ocean" carry with them. What is at stake, for example, when an indigenous author Leslie Marie Silko argues in an interview: "Time is an ocean, and so the fact that we're all sitting here right now is very dependent on what happened five hundred years ago; and you can't just say, 'Aw, five hundred years ago, that's way in the past.' No, that linearity, that emphasis of making time all strung out like a string, that's political, that's what colonialists do...." (In a documentary of Matteo Bellinelli).
What are the ethical and political consequences if, indeed, what happened five hundred years ago is equally important as what happened five minutes ago, as Silko provocatively argues? Is there, for example, space for forgetting and forgiveness? How does the metaphor of oceanic time relate to the notorious metaphors of "soil and blood" – are both not evoking mythical visions of "deep time" where politics is defined in terms of non-verifiable ancient cultural memory instead of human situation today? Or does the element of water in its fluidity challenge the politics of division, for example the racist politics that the rhetoric of "soil" and "autochthony" have too often been associated to?  
Material metaphors of memory are built into our ethical and political discourses on cultural memory. Analyzing, deconstructing, and reconceptualizing these metaphors help us to understand better how cultural memory works, and how we can build a genuinely ethical relation to human and non-human past.  
Presenters Kuisma Korhonen
Professor, University Of Oulu, Finland
(Movie) Theatres of Memory: Ruin Photography between Memory Work and Memory Making
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
Since the Renaissance, ruins have been a frequent motif in painting, poetry and literature. A similar fascination has developed in photography, where the subject is also known as "ruin porn" (Lyons 2018), and film (e.g. Moltke 2010, Habib 2011). However, while previous generations were attracted to ancient ruins, contemporary "ruinophilia" (Boym 2011) seems to be more obsessed with urban decay, industrial ruins and other relics of modern society. This paper focuses on creative approaches to a very specific type of such "ruins of modernity" (Hell & Schönle 2010): the cinema ruin. 
In many countries and cities around the world, abandoned former cinemas left to decay bear witness to the eventful history of the seventh art. Specific architectural elements (screen, cinema seats, décor), as well as specific objects left behind (projectors, 35mm film material, reels and glue presses, advertising posters), make cinema ruins universally recognisable. At the same time, they bear traces of decidedly local historical events and memories. For example, the Cine Marrocos in São Paulo, Brazil, was once the venue of Brazil's first international film festival before, after a long period of decline and vacancy, a homeless movement found shelter there. As the example of Cine Marrocos, to which filmmaker Ricardo Calil dedicated a documentary film that was successful at contemporary festivals worldwide, shows, cinema ruins as artistic motifs can serve as a link and "memory node" (Rothberg 2010) between different cities and communities of memory.
With this paper, I extend my previous research on documentary films in which cinema ruins play a role (see Krämer 2021 on the Hemakcheat in Phnom Penh, Krämer 2022 on Cine Marrocos) to the artistic practice of ruin photography. To this end, I examine the work of French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, who collected photographs of abandoned or repurposed former cinemas in the US for their series "Theaters" (2005 and 2021). Behind every single photograph of this series is a process of collecting memories of what once was, but also of following what happens after the photograph is taken. (The most recent exhibition of the series, "Theaters. Epilogue" at Polka Galerie Paris, even featured a number of "vues évolutives extraites de Google Street View" that made transformations visible.) Moreover, photographic work in an abandoned building without electricity and light requires exploration, measuring and illumination, much like on a theatre stage. Based on interviews with the photographers, I reconstruct a complex artistic process that oscillates between memory work, memory art and memory making. In a second step, I then take a look at new memory "directions" added or opened up in the context of exhibitions, such as "Filmtheater" (2014-15) at the Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt, where Marchand's and Meffre's work was shown alongside archival footage of German and specifically Frankfurt cinema history.  


Presenters Marie Krämer
PhD Candidate / Research Associate, Philipps University Marburg / Université De Lorraine
Beyond eternal stones: on art, paper and monuments
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
In public spaces, the politics of memory have traditionally chosen noble and perennial materials to preserve the memory of historical events (and figures) for eternity. Today, these monuments, made of marble and bronze on high pedestals, raise questions. In many ways, they seem to come from another age. Indeed, does the monument and its preservation really prevent us from forgetting? The paradox of classical monumentality lies in its claim to erect a memory that seems condemned to be forgotten. 
In fact, following the construction of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005) in Berlin, theoretician James E. Young suggests that it is not one project over another that will avoid amnesia. According to him, it is the debate that keeps memory alive. Do we build monuments, so that they can remember and we can start to forget? Do we delegate our individual and collective memory work to stones?
Young also explores an artistic movement, that emerged in the 1980s particularly in Germany, called counter-monuments. These artists challenge classical monumentality and the permanence of its materiality through ephemeral artistic practices. 
For example, in Hamburg, Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz create the Monument Against Fascism (1986-1993), a column that slowly sank into the ground, leaving an empty space. Rather than having a monument recalling the memory, now it is the memory of people that recalls the monument and what it commemorates.
In Paris, Christian Boltanski creates the monument Les Habitants de l'hôtel de Saint-Aignan en 1939 (1998). Rather than engraving the names of Holocaust victims into marble, the artist prints them on paper destined to perish, in order to be replaced and re-remembered.
Therefore, could it be possible to preserve collective memory through the ephemeral? Instead of eternal monuments, through artistic interventions meant to disappear? Instead of marble and bronze, through paper and cardboard?
Beyond the counter-monuments mentioned above, this paper further explores the work of contemporary artists who, through a dialogue between places and ephemeral paper art, reveal (un)known urban territories and challenge the centrality and verticality of institutional memories.
For instance, the work of Ernest Pignon-Ernest questions the way memory is constructed and staged within urban settings. His graphic installations take over public spaces, in order to uncover forgotten heritage. Using charcoal and paper, he creates perishable monuments and reveals the repressed, even censored memories of cities – such as in his Neapolitan series (1988-1995, Italy).
Furthermore, Thomas Hirschhorn constructs precarious monuments and altars in the format of spontaneous public memorials dedicated to cultural and intellectual figures. Made of tape, cardboard and paper, his installations such as the Deleuze Monument (2000) in Avignon (France) interrogates territorial and cultural politics.
In conclusion, this paper explores spontaneous, creative and ephemeral memorials rather than eternal ones. Those that question the codes and materiality of "official" monuments, in order to reveal unseen narratives and memories embodied in public spaces. The aim is to demonstrate the need to reinvent and update the monument through new aesthetic means, such as art and paper.



Presenters
EK
Elise Kleitz
PhD Candidate / Research Fellow, Brandenburg University Of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU)
Sound, Memory and Diaspora: Remembering the Bangladesh War from London
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
Although memory studies has in recent years paid increased attention to transnational and diasporic memory, the role of sound in the travel and exchange of practices of memorialization remains largely unexplored. This is remarkable because of the role sounds play in constructing a multi-sensory, authentic experience and how they help bridge temporal and spatial distance. Sounds facilitate and produce a sensory experience of home away from home that is central to diasporic community making. This paper assesses the role of sound, memory and place drawing on ethnographic fieldwork of commemorations of the Bangladesh War in London. It will illustrate how sounds play a crucial role in the diasporic memory of Bangladeshi nationalists in London, focusing on often invoked diasporic sites of memory. I specifically asses how participants at commemorations combine images and sonic representations of a Golden Bengal, a reference to Rabindranath Tagore's famous poem and the national anthem of Bangladesh, to invoke an authentic, prosperous rural Bengal that is associated with home. I explore emotional invocations of a Golden Bengal, and how their intertextuality, the circulatory traces of discourses across different texts and contexts, impact memorialization. By combining textual and ethnographic methods, insights are provided into how the reception of memory occurs, and the role sounds play in this process, as well as how immersion is created among participants at commemorative events through sounds.
This paper is part of a research project called SoundTrak at Aarhus University (funded by the Velux Foundation) investigating sound, memory and war: https://cas.au.dk/en/soundtrak/about-the-project. If the above abstract is accepted, I kindly request, if at all possible, for the paper to be placed in a panel with the paper submitted by SoundTrak PI prof. Andreas Steen. 
Presenters Jacco Visser
Postdoc , Aarhus University
Assistant Professor in Polish Studies
,
Trinity College Dublin
Professor
,
University of Oulu, Finland
PhD Candidate / Research Associate
,
Philipps University Marburg / Université de Lorraine
PhD candidate / Research fellow
,
Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU)
Postdoc
,
Aarhus University
Ms Lotte Dijkstra
PhD Researcher School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
,
Newcastle University
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