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On Post-Memory and how it relates to my practice.

The concept of post-memory began emerging from my work at the end of the second year, when I began noticing my connections with the past in my present time – how knowledge is passed from generation to generation, also in the form of memories, and how it shapes the way we think of ourselves – how it shapes our identities – both personal and cultural.

I started thinking about what makes certain communities the way they are – how collective and national identities are formed – what distinguishes one community from another – how memories are passed down to impact specific characteristics and traditions of communities

This idea emerged when I started actively thinking about the way my country still surrounds itself with ghosts and memories from the past as political tools to influence people – to create social impact / change – how memories of war are used against other communities to reinforce our own sense of national identity and belonging – and it works – an evidence of it is the fact that history is an active subject of familial communities as well – memories of the past – whether direct or indirect are talked about and passed down to the next generations – it is something we take great pride in and something that forms our own identities from a very young age – so it’s also quite interesting to think about the fact that different people interpret that information in so many different ways and find their own way around it, their own meaning which becomes intertwined like threads into the fabric of their existence

Also the idea of incorporating indirect memories and knowledge – indirect experiences as our own is quite intriguing – the fact that people accept these into their own lives, without always having real proof about their authenticity, as they can be so subjective – rely on word of mouth, and are usually manipulated by people’s subjectivity and biases – and thus stories and tales are formed – tales which we see as reality – it can also be a very dangerous practice if what we acquire as our own comes from a political source – then we truly don’t have the confirmation regarding its authenticity because the intention / motivation for spreading it is different

 

Hirsch, M. (2012). The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press.

An observation I noted down when reading the first chapter of the book:

Our lives have been formed through decisions made by people for the last millions of years – meaning that we are a product of over billions and billions of decisions – that seems to put all our lives into perspective – and if we think about it in this context, then our lives are naturally, culturally and socially bound to be intertwined with those of generations before us – the way we identify will contain their stories and pasts – our lives in some ways are based of their decisions – our identities are shaped by their histories – links to the notion of “connective histories” (Hirsch, 2012, p. 21)

“sense of living connection” (Hirsch, 2012, p. 1)

“past’s passing into history or myth” (Hirsch, 2012, p. 1)

“personal/familial/generational sense of ownership and protectiveness […] evolving ethical and theoretical discussion about the workings of trauma, memory and intergenerational acts of transfer.”

Hirsch, M. (2012). The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 1-2

In my own practice I explore this theory by looking at my own identity and how investigating how my immigrant background cuts me off from immediate sources of traditions, stories and the past that actively lives in the lives of my family and peers – how I struggle to connect with them and find a sense of belonging because we do not share the same stories – our sense of identities have been formed in different ways due to the environments within which we are submerged in.

I look at the symbolism of flora as a means to explore connections between people – this emerged from the observation that the knowledge of plants is deeply rooted into conversations and daily lives of the females in my family – I can’t imagine a house or a day where plants are a part of it

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