My exhibition History as Personal Memory (together with two further German artists) will open on Friday, February 16th. I am expected to do a short talk.
At the beginning of January I finished this painting for the exhibition which the curator had selected. I am stretching it to 83 inches by 120 inches.
The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma
Tar, acrylic, oil, pastel and charcoal on canvas,
83 x 120 inches,
The curator will also screen my video History as Personal Memory on a big TV screen.
Here is the artist statement I wrote for the exhibition:
I am interested in how we Germans deal with collective memory, with suppressing and forgetting the past as opposed to remembering and striving to come to terms with the past.
Formerly, my work critically examined and analyzed the different identities that places like Berlin can take on over time within paintings. With this new body of work, I scrutinized German collective memory, investigated power structures and the overstepping of personal boundaries. I combined ideas pertaining to home land and my own personal memory. This body of work consists of paintings, drawings and the video History as Personal Memory.
In my video, I introduced working with my body to see if I can use it as a tool of investigation. I recorded my voice reading texts by Nietzsche, Foucault and my own texts that I included as a voice-over to imagery. I captured imagery that shows my hand working on a painting. I pour tar onto the canvas and rub it into the surface. In another scene, I walked train tracks. I projected my grandfather's portrait onto my body. I am interested how can I can use my body as a tool to reactivate memory.
I investigated Foucault’s ideas about various models of power structures, which contributes to a dialogue my work embodies. I am interested in how people can gain power over others. Also, I explored the rationale associated with people who are not necessarily in a power position but who enable those in that position by assisting them. I was also interested in the power structure of the church and the power certain individuals have over others. I was interested in finding out about the psychological consequences of those who had been overpowered by others and what happens if a child’s boundaries are compromised, reflecting on my childhood sexual abuse experiences.
My history includes my own childhood experiences, I endeavor to forget and Germany’s history, that we Germans are trying to erase from our memory. In my film, I tear pages from a history book about the Third Reich, a time in Germany’s history that Germans would like to eradicate from memory. Germans would like to expunge this part of our history and to put a leaden blanket onto our past. Yet, it is important to face and to discuss this past, to show how it was possible for the Nazis to come to power, to prevent its imposed trauma and desecration from ever happening again.
In my work, I now also reference my childhood memories of trauma, which I had been attempting to forget for so many years - without success. Through my research, I have learned that only by consciously working through memories, by writing them down, finally articulating them in my work, can a healing start to take place.
I am taking a semester long Video art course at the local art school. We have been analyzing films by two seminal Canadian experimental filmmakers Oliver Hockenhull and Steven Woloshen. We also learn about other filmmakers like Stan Brakhage and Hollis Frampton and look at and discuss their work. We learn about light and film setting and are creating little videos in groups.
I was also registered for a workshop ‘Cinematography and Hand-processing Film’ and ‘Drawing on Film’ on Sat and Sun Feb 10 and 11, but I had to cancel unfortunately because the family from Syria will arrive on February 13th!!! I am sure I will get to take the course another time.
Malvina will come and visit me for a week for us to prepare our dialogue. Ideally,
we would like to have a dialogue which is monitored by Elena.
During the next four weeks, I will re-edit my film History as Personal Memory and re-record my English Voice-over, also I am working on a new painting and eventually want to start with a new video.
I am not sure about my research question and have started a list with several possibilities, I would love to hear your feedback:
How can I create correlations between my childhood abuse experiences which I endeavor to forget and Germany's Nazi past, that we Germans are trying to erase from our memory?
An investigation of how I can possibly address and work through my childhood sexual abuse experiences and discuss German collective memory at the same time.
How can I use my memory and my own experience of as a basis of knowledge and combine it with the collective memory of Germans?
How can I work through memories and articulate my traumatic experiences of my past through research and in my artistic work?
An investigation into how I can approach my childhood abuse memories from an intellectual point of view rather than an emotional perspective.
How can I use my body as a tool of investigation and tool to reactivate memory when approaching my past and my sexual abuse experiences from my childhood?
An investigation into power structures, home land, German collective memory, the overstepping of personal boundaries and my own personal memory.
What are the psychological consequences of those who had been overpowered by others and what happens if a child’s boundaries are compromised, reflecting on my childhood sexual abuse experiences?
How can I talk about that part of the past which Germans would like to expunge of our history and put a leaden blanket on and simultaneously discuss my childhood trauma of sexual abuse?
How does the impact of personal memories, like that of child sexual abuse correlate to collective memory of German Nazi Germany atrocities as discussion of power and its misuse be stated within a film and painting?
How can the dynamics of power, the absence or imposition of power that correlates to persistence of personal memory of childhood sex abuse trauma and its outcomes, the desire for collective memory erasure through German Nazi experiences and their consequences be voiced simultaneously as a film?
Can a parallel be drawn between the effects of a German collective memory wanting erasure of Nazi’s imposition of power with that of childhood sexual abuse survivor needs for closure, absence of memory within the context of film?