Memory has become a keyword in the arts, the social sciences and the humanities when addressing the past and its legacies. To remember is an individual faculty but, as individuals normally remember as members of social groups, also a collective faculty. Individual and collective memories do not always coincide; in different social groups, individuals remember differently what seems to be the same event. Likewise, personal memories and official narratives are not always identical. Indeed, there is often a profound tension between what individuals remember and what they are required to remember according to official narratives. Insisting on individual memories can put people at risk. Memory is never fixed, it is always emerging, shaped in light of and adapted to present requirements.
Part II of The Struggle of Memory “presents artworks which highlight the traces of history that exist all around us” – the continuation of the past in the present and the continuous colonization of the past by the present – “see[king] to honor the beauty and resilience of the earth and humankind while acknowledging the ongoing impact of centuries of injustice and exploitation.”
Decolonizing memories requires identification of the strategies the colonizers applied to legitimize their activities but also emergence of counter-memories based, for example, on narratives of resistance, as in Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work alluding in a mixed media installation to African acts of resistance with which many exhibition visitors are likely to be unfamiliar. The Struggle of Memory, therefore, visualizes mnemonic agency and asks viewers to reflect upon their own habits of seeing and meaning making when confronted with testimonies of lives and living conditions other than, but inescapably linked to, their own.
From the exhibition:
The Struggle of Memory, Part 2:
Wong Hoy Cheong
Dineo Seshee Bopape
The Struggle of Memory, Part II is at Deutsche Bank Collection, PalaisPopulaire, Unter den Linden 5, Berlin, October 20, 2023 – March 11, 2024
Photography (c) Frank Möller
Photographs taken at the exhibition for strictly non-commercial purpose.