Arts of Memory: a cycle of discussions on the past in art practices

Arts of Memory: a cycle of discussions on the past in art practicesArts of Memory: a cycle of discussions on the past in art practices

DESCRIPTION

The public program for the exhibition by Thomas Demand includes a cycle of discussions on the construction of public memory in the arts. Contemporary artists, researchers, writers, musicians, and filmmakers will discuss the role that various arts play in the thinking and rethinking of the past.

Art plays a key role in the interaction of individuals, communities, and societies with the past. It contributes to our understanding and rethinking of history, our dealing with tragic and traumatic historical events, the construction and preservation of cultural memory, and the creation of the imagery for the present and future.

The cycle of discussions organized as part of the public program for the exhibition by Thomas Demand Mirror Without Memory focuses on the understanding of the past through art practice. Historians write and rewrite history, search for and discover historical facts and offer their interpretations. Politicians instrumentalize and politicize the past, reject certain interpretations and defend or even impose others. Activists fight for the broadening of the historical narrative and the inclusion of histories and voices previously excluded from it. What place do artists hold in this process of rethinking the past? What is their contribution to collective memory work?

Each of the six discussions in the cycle is devoted to one art form and one aspect of art’s engagement with the past. Participants will look at how filmmakers, playwrights, composers, writers, photographers, painters, and other artists work with history and memory: what tasks they set for themselves, what approaches and sources they use, and what roles truth and invention—the document and imagination—play in the process.

How is Monetochka’s [a popular Russian singer] work with the memory of the 1990s different from the approach of composer Sergej Newski? What devices does artist Yael Bartana use to visualize and connect to Poland’s Jewish past, and how does artist Haim Sokol weave the experience of his father in a Jewish ghetto in Ukraine under German occupation into the collective memory of the Holocaust? How do the approaches of the writers Maria Stepanova and Guzel Yakhina, both working with historical material, differ? What kind of memory of postwar Leningrad does Kantemir Balagov’s film Beanpole connect us to? What do the plays SLON [Solovki special camp] by Andrey Stadnikov and The Second Act. Grandchildren by Mikhail Kaluzhsky and Aleksandra Polivanova have in common apart from their exploration of GULAG history and terror?

Practitioners representing different arts and scholars who study arts’ engagement with the past will discuss these and related questions, as well as theoretical frameworks for their analysis and understanding. The cycle will end with a discussion of gender from a historical perspective and of the role that art and media practices play in the making of a language to speak about it.

Program by Aleksandra Evtushenko and Andrei Zavadski

Schedule

Discussion. Imagining the Past: Cultural Memory and Fiction

The discussion will look at the role that novels and other literary works play in our interaction with the past. Participants will discuss the interplay of truth and fact in literature, as well as the importance of imagination in working with historical matter and the methods that authors use when they work with sources.

About the moderator

Lev Oborin is a poet and critic; editor at the project Polka and the series Kultura povsednevnosti [Everyday Culture] of the Russian publishing house New Literary Observer. He is the author of five collections of poetry, a winner of Znamya and Parabola prizes, and an expert of the Nos Prize.

Date
Friday, October 29
Time
19:00–21:00

Discussion. Moving Image—Fluid Past: How Cinema Pushes the Boundaries of History and Memory

How does film work with the past? What potential does it offer in terms of re-thinking history, pushing the boundaries of our historical narrative, and giving voice to those previously denied it? What are the advantages and disadvantages of documentary and fiction films in the discussion of tragic historical events? What is the role of the politics of memory in the making of such films? Participants will discuss these and related questions.

About the moderator

Alisa Taezhnaya is a film critic, lecturer, and journalist. She gives talks on contemporary film and culture at film festivals and Moscow cultural institutions, including Bang Bang Education, Anti University, Central House of Business, Moscow Manezh, Beat Film Festival, Komanda29, Moskino, and MMOMA. She runs the Telegram channel Odin raz uvidet [See it Once].

Date
Thursday, November 11
Time
19:00–21:00
Place
Garage Auditorium

Discussion. Beyond the Document: The Past in Theatre Practice

The discussion is devoted to the place of history and memory in (the Russian) theatre, the specificity of working with the past in documentary theatre, and the directors’ and playwrights’ work with historical documents. Participants will discuss various approaches to the exploration of the past on the stage besides documentary practices.

About the moderator

Olga Tarakanova is a theatre critic and playwright; co-author of the plays Locker Room Talk, Cavities of Capitalism and Horrible Kids, and the zine Gender Research in Theatre. Methodology. She runs the Telegram channel post/postdrama.

Date
Thursday, November 25
Time
19:00–21:00

Discussion. Sounds of the Past: How Music Forms Collective Memory

Participants will discuss the role of music in the forming of the collective memory of the past. Are pop and classical music different in this sense? What devices and what sources do composers use when working on pieces devoted to historical events? How do humanities study the connections between music and the past?

About the moderator

Lev Gankin is the creator of the podcasts British Music from Choir to Hardcore and Turn it Up on Arzamas; Sound and Fury on Kinopoisk and the musical program Walking on Sound on Silver Rain Radio; he is the author of the book Walking on Sound and a lecturer at Pro Arte and RANEPA.

Date
Thursday, December 9
Time
19:00–21:00

Discussion. How We Did (Not) Speak and Do (Not) Speak About Gender

The discussion will look at the representation of gender in the Russian media. What role do the media play in the creation of a language to talk about gender? How does the social and political context of contemporary Russia influence the gender agenda? What was this agenda like in the Soviet media narratives, and how did those narratives evolve over time—from the 1920s’ experiments to the era of stagnation in the 1980s? How did  glasnost and Western media imagery affect gender politics in the 1990s?

About the moderator

Katerina Suverina is curator of Garage Art Book Fair, editor of The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture, co-founder of the Public History Laboratory.

Date
Wednesday, December 15
Time
19:00–21:00
Place
Online
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