The "Arts of Oblivion" symposium presents artistic, academic, and activist perspectives on the politics of forgetting
Arts of Oblivion symposium
Artistic, academic, and activist perspectives on the politics of forgetting
19-20 March 2020
KASKcinema, Godshuizenlaan 4, 9000 Ghent
Keynotes: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Michael Rothberg
Participants: Joachim Ben Yakoub, Collectif Mémoire Coloniale et Lutte contre les Discriminations, Branka Benčić, Bambi Ceuppens, Stoffel Debuysere, Mitchell Esajas, Oliver Frljić, Quinsy Gario, Carole Umulinga Karemera, Eline Mestdagh, Laura Nsengiyumva, Anna Reading, Selma Selman, Reem Shilleh, Christel Stalpaert, Matthew Stanard, Vesna Teršelič, Sarah Vanagt, Petra Van Brabandt, and others.
Screening Programme with films by: Kader Attia, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Igor Grubić, Jelena Jureša, Kurt Kren, Alexander Kluge, Peter Kubelka, Nebojša Slijepčević, Sarah Vanagt.
Organizers: Jelena Jureša, Marte Van Hassel, and Stef Craps
Programme and registration: www.artsofoblivion.be
In recent years theorists and practitioners of memory have increasingly turned their attention to memory’s “other,” forgetting or oblivion. At best a secondary concern during the “memory boom” of the 1980s and 1990s, the phenomenon of forgetting commands widespread interest these days, not only in academic circles but also in the art world and across society.
Prominent memory scholars such as Paul Connerton, Aleida Assmann, and Paul Ricœur insist on the need to differentiate between different types or forms of forgetting, some constructive, others destructive. The anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler has famously put forward the concept of aphasia as an alternative to forgetting to describe European nations’ problematic relationship with their respective colonial histories. In a much-talked-about book, the journalist David Rieff provocatively calls for a rehabilitation of forgetting as a worthy pursuit. Memory loss is being studied as a major symptom of dementia, arguably the signature illness of this era of big data and information overload, which could yet become known as a “digital Dark Age” to future historians due to the ephemerality of born-digital materials. Responding to what seems to be the opposite fear, a ruling by the European Court of Justice has enshrined a “right to be forgotten” in EU law, giving EU citizens the right to have their personal data erased under certain circumstances. Meanwhile, numerous artists and activists have been investigating, documenting, and protesting processes and practices of forgetting, erasure, denial, and repression, often in response to official attempts to impose a hegemonic version of a contested past and to suppress, silence, or marginalize dissenting voices.
Featuring keynote lectures by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Michael Rothberg, the international symposium “Arts of Oblivion” will bring together scholars, artists, and activists to discuss how, why, and to what effect contemporary culture addresses issues of forgetting in relation to a diverse range of individual as well as collective histories of violence, trauma, and illness. The programme will include a mix of presentations, interviews, roundtables, and film screenings, and allow ample time for discussion and interaction.
The symposium is organized by KASK & Conservatorium in collaboration with the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative (UGent), CiAsp (Université libre de Bruxelles), and TAPAS: Thinking about the Past (UGent). The film programme is curated in collaboration with the Croatian art historian and curator Branka Benčić, whose previous research and residency in Belgium have been supported by ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts and Kunstenpunt (Brussels).
Attendance is free, but registration is required. All participants, both speakers and attendees, should register via the symposium website by 10 March 2020 at the latest.