Memory of Oblivion
Thu, Oct 12; 7:00 - 9:00pm
MA Curatorial Practice presents "Memory of Oblivion," curated by program fellow Maria Sáenz.
"Remembering is easy for those who have memory." (Attributed to Gabriel García Márquez.)
"Memory of Oblivion" creates a paradoxical dialogue by juxtaposing the concepts of memory and oblivion. "Memory" comes from the Latin word memoria and is understood as the human capacity to remember, to recollect, to be conscious, whereas "oblivion" comes from the Latin word oblivio, and is referred as the state of forgetting. For the French author Marc Augé, memory and oblivion are intertwined. He states: "memory is crafted by oblivion as the outlines of the shore are created by the sea." (1) This exhibition makes visible the loss of memory in contemporary societies and raises questions about how cultural narratives are shaped by this reality. In the context of a global social reconstruction, this exhibition is a call to action to create social awareness and to prevent the suppression of memory from happening. In this light, it is worth recalling the philosopher George Santayana’s phrase: "Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
"Memory of Oblivion" features works by Tessa Mars (Haiti), Marianna Peragallo (Brazil), Farideh Sakhaeifar (Iran) and Gabriel Hernández Serrato (Colombia). These artists present different ways of dealing with the loss of memory as they approach different forms of oblivion and reflect on how it shapes the cultural and political present. This exhibition considers why societies forget and keep forgetting, the absence of a historical and a collective memory, and how memory is transformed and past experiences are repeated. The show contrasts the artists' personal, social and cultural contexts, crossing national frontiers and finding a common ground.
Farideh Sakhaeifar presents manipulated photographs that show bodiless Syrian refugees leaving Aleppo to live in temporary refugee camps. The absence of the bodies and the emptiness is, for Sakhaeifar, a form of oblivion.
Gabriel Hernández Serrato displays a video-photo installation of an abandoned school in Utica, Colombia, which was left in ruins after a natural disaster, the absence of the government and the violence of armed groups. Hernández Serrato protests the effects and consequences of oblivion.
In a series of portrait drawings, Marianna Peragallo recalls the memory of the people who lost their lives in the wake of oppression in recent years in the US. In Peragallo’s work, individual and collective memory loss are held up to view and contrasted.
Finally, Tessa Mars presents Invite a Dictator to Tea, an installation that evokes the political memories of Haiti as a silent protest against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and a reaction against the consequences of political oblivion.
"Memory of Oblivion" creates a dialogue about the importance of memory and how to prevent the past from repeating itself. Art is a vital apparatus in raising social awareness and denying the oblivion of memories. So Milan Kundera has written: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against oblivion."
1 Marc Augé, Oblivion (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 11.