precis for Politics of Memory




There are two different kinds of memory, communicative memory and cultural memory. Communicative memory is a memory which is shared. It is a memory and experience shared between two or more people, usually a generation within itself. A cultural memory is defined as a memory that is personal, and passed down to forthcoming generations in the family. Post memory- This is the memory of those that weren’t at the event themselves and therefore didn’t go through the experience but feel as though they did due to the families passing the memory on to them. The memory of the event is passed down to the next generation who then have two options. One, they can either follow through the experience shared, meaning they take it on as their own experience. The slave trade can be taken as an example, some members of the black community have a negative attitude to some of the members of the white community, because of how their ancestors were treated, still there were some who embrace their identity, have knowledge of their culture and are able to forget the experience to their ancestors. A similar example can be of the holocaust, an event in which many Jews, and those from other cultures were killed, and very little survived. (Hirsch herself being a second generation survivor) Families have an important role in post memory context. It is the families that pass on their memories, traditions and experiences to the next generation. However these experiences are at risk of taking over the lives of the new generation and allowing their experiences to control their lives, changing and shaping their own personal experiences. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this. Some cultures are based on stories that are passed down and these experiences become a part of the culture. In addition, the saying “you had to be there” applies here. There’s a very huge difference between being there and simply being told. They are completely two different things It is also known that post memory brings about imagination and creativity. This is because when the stones are being recalled one can only imagine what it was like because they were not there themselves. This means the imagination and projection has to be used to create the imagery of the event in our minds. Even sometimes it does exaggerate particular parts. Photography also plays a main part in post memory. This form of technology produces evidence allowing the memory to be even more believable. Photography allows us the opportunity to see the past and sometimes bring it to life again. Even if we feel close to these memories as they were close to the generation before us does that give us the right to claim these memories as our own? Can they be adoptable into our own life stories?

Bodies of Evidence

“Contemporary documentary theatre represents a struggle to shape and remember the most transitory history.”

Theatre can be used for the performance of these events which gives us the opportunity to discuss this event and the talking about it may make people feel uncomfortable that surround it, as simply masking the issue with a performance also allows documentary theatre to cross over into the boundaries of history. Documentary theatre interrogates specific events that occur in society and presents us with the opportunity to change history as we know it. Technology plays an important role in documentary theatre and is a very easy as well as simple way to transmit knowledge. In documentary theatre, technology and postmodern things meets oral theatre culture with the hopes of mixing them together to retell what happened. The actors that are portrayed are often no longer around “absent, unavailable dead or disappeared”. They are represented through technology or other actors. Documentary theatre finds a whole new world in stories that surround a particular part of history and tries to change the history a little bit. There is this element of correction and fixing of the broken pieces of what we’ve been taught. All the details in documentary theatre are important. The archives, selection, editing, organisation are chosen for a specific persuasive reason or purpose. It is important to establish that nothing is overlooked. The process to creating a performance in this type of theatre is as follows, there is the behaviour, archived records of behaviour and the representation of behaviour as a public performance. Documentary theatre can also be seen to be similar with the ideas of Richard Schechner’s ideas and discoveries: 1) Restored this is the idea that the future creates the past. People act accordingly to ensure the future is what we want it to be. In d theatre, the piece is constructed in a way to ensure a particular type of feeling and emotion at the end. All the pieces are usually of events that have happened in the past. 2) The “not” and the not – the actors are both playing themselves and the people they represent. So they “not” playing themselves but they are “not not” playing themselves. 3). Twice behaved behaviour- so in cases the actors would have to behave the already “behaved”. There are 6 main functions of documentary theatre 1) to retry trials in order to critique justice. 2) to create more historical events. 3) to critique the operations of both documentary and fiction. 4) to intertwine an autobiography with history . 5) to reconstruct a historical event or account. 6) to briefly describe the oral culture of theatre.


Performance is ephemeral. It doesn’t last very long as it is short lived and transitory. Different cultures have different ways of saving theatre and performance. To some more extreme, than others they are saved nonetheless, and the archive is created as a way to preserve and save these performance. Archives are however a very esteem way of thinking .That is interconnected with power dominance strength and control. In many cultures, oral stories are passed on from generation to generation to keep the culture alive It is very hard to follow the ideas of these archives as we can be seen to be buying into the idea that it is the only way to save a performance, but it is not. Archives in this way overshadow the memory and other methods used to save a performance. This is simply because people look to the archives to tell them their own memory. They have faith in what they remember and the archives to be correct. But there are other ways. An example would be oral stories. We all felt a certain way and the way we felt simply a response to the feeling the teller was conveying. For each was person this was different, however this is an experience one cannot gain from an archive. The class experienced the performance together which was magical but we all saw a different performance due to our subjective minds, making the experiences slightly more personal. So what happens if the body itself becomes an archive? Dances or strict practices of performance that more or less remain the same t history such as ballet, in ballet there is compromise. Either you are doing it correctly or not, because the principles no don’t change. Can this be considered an archive? What about performance? Can performance itself be archive? Why not! Watching a performance and constructing a performance on top of it from memory allows the performance to be an archive and a memory. It is not the performance itself but simply a representation of it. This can be inconsistent and incomplete, but one could that an archive shares the same traits as archives can be edited and argue changed.

Representative of Memory, Performance and Archive

Four groups were involved in this. Every group was given the opportunity to share their groups work, it was very interesting to see how the groups we did see interpret the tasks differently. Yet we all saw the same kinds of things into their work. Group One went forward and took a creative and standout approach. They used their peer and adding a comedic element which brought the piece to life. As the two gentlemen in the performance danced gleefully (representing the performance two of the females within the group recorded the dance using their phones and imitated the performance representing the archive) and the last female of the group sat and watched, enjoying both of the performances being played out front of her (representing the memory). The two females that recorded the original dance piece used the recording to copy the gentlemen, and almost tried to get the moves exactly correct which they were not able to do. This was in good representation and well analysis of the three as it showed how the process works. This bring out how archives work, as archives as argued by theorists do not always capture the complete essence many the performance, which we were able to see firsthand as an audience. Group Two however took a more non fictional direct approach one of the performers walked into the performance space and did a series of moves that were normal and consistent. When this was happening, the only gentlemen in the group recorded the movement while looking away. Another female simply watched the movement and the last female drew each of the movements conducted. After the initial performance was complete, the three recording the piece went into the performance space and it was their ob to repeat what the initial performer performed. The group member drawing and the group member using memory completed the movements, but weren’t precise. The recording failed and therefore the gentleman was unable to conduct the movement. Again this shows how archives work. The recording failed, showing how archives can sometimes be unreliable. The memory was changed to suit the reference of the performer. One could argue this would be the same as considering memory to be unreliable because it can be changed or altered like Chinese whispers. Finally the drawing was unable to catch the moment precisely as it went by so quickly, showing how quickly a moment can go within a performance and not even an archive can capture it. It was easy to understand all of these concepts after the readings and presentations; however the performances put these ideas into perspective and showed the pros and cons of each. As stated previously, all the groups were not able to show their interpretations so until next time.

Caroline Golder and GAC

What is a activist demonstrative group called particularly in South America, who use their art in the protests to make it more effective, in order to make a change in the society………… Carolina Golder one of the main activists a part of the project joined us in Politics of Performance and Memory class on the 6th of October 2014. Carolina Golder was in the country for the Disobedient acts exhibition taking place in the V&A (which will go and see). Carolina Golder is a member of the GAC group in Argentina, a group that uses art to get the attention those in Argentina who are unaware of the issues going on in the country. “Alert, alert, alert to the neighbours there’s an assassin living next to you.”,“Si no hay justicia, hay escraches.” – These were the messages being painted on walls handed out on are only two exam pamphlets, being pinned up on signs and walls and being shouted all in the streets of Buenos Aires. We only had a little amount of time in the class but she gave us quite a lot of information about the movements she was a part of and the impact that had on the society in Argentina. The invasion project took place between 1976 and 1983. There were three main symbols that were being stuck to lampposts, buildings, floors, sign posts and wherever else that had had a second flat surface. The first was a bomb, which represented the economic organisations that were the missiles which represented journalism and thirdly there was to soldiers which represented the security. As seen in a video on YouTube, one of their acts of protest was to group climbing to a high building and dropping toy soldiers with parachutes to the floor in broad daylight. Hundreds of those things were being dropped onto people and cars. People began reaching for the toy soldiers from their office windows, cars stopped to get a few off of their windshields as well as people of the streets grabbing handfuls. Carolina Golder stated that these people were not her friends or enemies and that their grabbing for the toy soldiers was a very childish act. She also told us that their relationship with the police was based on negotiation, her defence being -it’s just art. Additionally she informed the group that Buenos Aries is polluted by advertisement so these protests were easy construct without being too much of an intervention. It was great to have such a demonstrative and intelligent artist who had influence on the people joined us and I hope to keep up to date with her influential work.


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