By Maria Gregoriou
Ever noticed how we all remember differently? Some of us remember places, others remember people and others remember sounds and smells. There are many ways in which we remember and each one has to do with our personalities, where we were brought up, the cultural heritage behind us and perhaps the memories we have already stored away – yet we all record these recollections to create our own archive, whether personal or collective and historical.
Starting tomorrow, a group of 23 artists from 11 countries in Southeastern Europe will be displaying their artworks which address these aspects of collective memory, as well as the role of image in the process of memory keeping. The countries from which the artists come are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldavia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.
Recorded Memories – Europe. Southeast is the collective name of the exhibition that brings together artists who used photography and video to examine, through their work, the ways in which the past continues to be present in the specified region of Europe, a region which has been stained by conflict, hostilities and wars.
The idea for the exhibition came about from the Goethe Institute and curator Constanze Wicke, who found support from other curators in the participating countries. Once the idea was established, the people involved searched for artists who examine the subject of memory in their work, and who have made the history of their region the subject of their art.
According to Wicke, “The title of the exhibition carries with it the idea that there is a substrate, a medium that can record memory or assimilate it. Photographic film is, in fact, a ‘sponge’ that soaks up the visible and traps it as the past. But memory is an organic process, one that is subjective and irrational, and far more complex than a simple matter of retrieving a stored past or pressing the shutter.”
Each artist brings to the artistic table (as it were) a different historical narrative which was captured and recorded by using the camera in a unique way. In the hands of these artists the camera is not just a machine used to capture still or moving images, it is a device which keeps biographical accounts which may be used to perform historical analysis.
What is on view in the exhibition is a collection of different attitudes, approaches and evaluations to what we name memory and it is probably the only one of its kind today in Europe. As the 23 artists come from such diverse backgrounds, it is fair to say that the memories of culture, histories and landscapes which the audience will experience are very different from one another and present an intense interwoven blanket of perceptions.
A number of other activities are planned to go ahead during the duration of the exhibition, including a round-table discussion on Saturday at 10.30am at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and a number of film screenings during January and February, including the film Shadows and Faces by Turkish Cypriot writer and director Dervis Zaim on January 28.
The exhibition, which is being organised by the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre Association, together with the Pierides Foundation and the Goethe Insitut, was originally on view from May to September 2013 in the Museum of Photography in Braunschweig, before beginning its tour around Southeast Europe. Tomorrow it makes its stop in Cyprus and invites us all to take a look at recorded memories.
Group exhibition. Opens November 28. 8pm until February 21. Old Powerhouse, 19 Palias Ilektrikis, Nicosia. Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-9pm. Tel: 22-797400