Spaces of Memory & Performance: Trauma, Affect, Displacement
University of East London, Centre of Performing Arts Development (CPAD)
Date: 20-21 June 2014
Venue: University of East London, University Square.
Confirmed speakers: Claudia Fontes (visual artist), Lola Arias (theatre director), Vikki Bell (Goldsmiths), Anne Huffschmidt (Freie Universitat Berlin), Ananda Breed (UEL), Carl Lavery (University of Glasgow), Valentina Salvi (UNTREF), Patricia Violi (University of Bologna), Eve Katsouraki (UEL).
‘Places are lost – destroyed, vacated, barred – but then there is some new place, and it is not the first, never can be the first.’ – Judith Butler
The aftermath of episodes of trauma and loss have traditionally given way to urban rituals and encounters with sites of public grieving. Even so, the emergence of disparate sites of trauma has not been enough addressed from a performative perspective. The very existence of the so-called ‘spaces of memory’ requests the reconfiguration of modes of engagement with the public space in the face of trauma and its performance. With this in mind, this two-day symposiumwill explore unconventional forms of intervention in performance and visual arts in a wide spectrum of geographical scenarios. The question that underlines the event is how to propitiate public pathways to engage with loss and trauma among expanded publics. While contesting processes of normalization of memory, the symposium seeks to discover embodied, ephemeral and unmarked spaces as sites of enchantment and public gathering. It also explores transitional and diasporic interventions that might envisage news forms of being together. The symposium is also an invitation to imagine the futurity of sites of memory and explore fictions that may transform the politics of spectatorship in the present.
Some of the key themes to be explored include:
- What is a ‘space of memory’?
- How innovative practices of intervention may awake a shared sense of ownership towards disparate traumatic pasts?
- How to investigate the affectivity of space in relation to memory and spectatorship?
- How sites of trauma become marked, unmarked, and displaced?
- Is it possible to encourage ways of ‘performing life’ within landscapes marked by loss?
- How disparate forms of theatre, performance and visual arts may contribute to 'work through' collective processes of suffering?
- Might bodies emerge as sites of public grieving?
- Might different forms of fiction help us to re-inhabit trauma in the present?
By rethinking the performativity of space and trauma, the symposium aims to generate a new and interdisciplinary dialogue among social sciences, visual arts, literature, theatre and performance.
We invite proposals (300 words) for 20 minutes papers & practical presentations, showings or shorter 10minprovocations/interventions from artists and curators, practitioners and scholars working at the crossroads of memory studies, performance, cultural studies, affect and trauma theory. Some thematic explorations may include:
- Urban space, memorialisation and landscapes
- The affectivity of the space and unconventional ways of relating to trauma
- Topographies and architectures of affect
- Post-traumatic spaces & performatives
- Sounds of trauma & haunted spaces
- Monuments, living memorials & bones
- Curation, empathy & care
- Ruins, future & potentiality
- Practises of reoccupation and ‘rehabilitation’ of space
- Abject spaces & body as site of trauma
- New museums, dark tourism
- The place of the perpetrators
- Transmission of trauma, vicarious and prosthetic memories
- Politics of reparation & spectatorship
This research event has the support of the British Academy International Partnership and Mobility (IPM) SchemeProgramme ‘Commemoration, New Audiences and Spaces of Memory in Latin America’s Southern Cone: Trans-cultural Dialogues in the Wake of Loss’. (PI: Dr. Cecilia Sosa, Postdoctoral researcher, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London).