The Need to Forget – the Willingness to See. How Contemporary Art Addresses Contested Topics of the Past

The Need to Forget – the Willingness to See. How Contemporary Art Addresses Contested Topics of the Past

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5.10.2017, 18:30

Center for Urban History, Lviv

In the time of information rush and omnipresent manipulations with public opinion, it is getting increasingly difficult to shape an independent stance on some debatable issues of concern to community. It is true both about the red hot issues, and also about the recent developments, since the living memory about them keeps contesting the further speculative layers and myths. It seems that in the Ukrainian society, the most manifest problem is lack of public unbiased view on history and some of the ambivalent episodes, lack of memory and actual reconciliation practices for positions of different communities.

Therefore, art appears to be one of the few areas where deep and frank reflections on the past could be made possible. However, frank does not imply objective, as personal interpretation of the problem by the artist as a citizen might run counter to the generally accepted opinion. Even more so, broad audience are often unprepared to face the "bare nerve" the artist disconcertingly reveals in his works. This means that instead of a needed therapeutic effect the artistic comment would only instigate the already hard tension around a subject.

Thus, could art be a functional tool in the "fight for memory"? What is the role of an artist in a public discussion?

We invited

Mirosław Bałka

a well-known artist, one of the key figures of contemporary art in Poland, to talk about this aspect, among others, as illustrated by his own art practices. Bałka works with the topics of individual and shared experiences related to the contested history of his country. He reveals links between personal memories and social disaster, and studies how subjective traumas transform into collective histories, and vice versa.

Lizaveta German

Candidate of Art History, an independent curator. Lizaveta German works on independent curator projects along with Maria Lanko. She is a co-founder of the research platform and a co-curator of the “Modern Art” course in Kyiv Acacdemy of Media Arts. Since 2012, Lizaveta has worked as an art critic with the “Ukrayinska Pravda” portal. Some of her recent explosive publications was the text on the “Remembering Culture” on the issue of lack of due state memory policy and the impotence of art to be a tool of social discussions and overcoming collective traumas related to the debatable episodes from the past.

The event is part of  the International Festival of audiovisual art TETRAMATYKA and the public program for the exhibition "(un)named".


Сover Image:  The Unilever Series / Miroslaw Balka