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Professor Nitin Sawhney To Host Talk With Manca Bajec Wed., March 1 at 12pm

Join Media Studies Professor Nitin Sawhney as he hosts an informal talk with Manca Bajec from the Royal College of Art in London next Wednesday, March 1. Read below for an abstract of the discussion from Ms. Bajec.

Remains of the Monument / the Counter-Monument Remains

Historical Revisionism in former Yugoslavia: Artistic practice as method of reconciliation

 Manca Bajec, PhD Candidate, Royal College of Art, London


Wednesday, March 1st, 12pm-1:30pm

School of Media Studies, Room D-1645 (back conference room)

16th Floor, 79 5th Avenue, New York

Talk Abstract:

This practice-led research questions the possibility of creating multi-vocal spaces of history through the re-establishment of the counter-monument movement.

Departing from my research that looks at how destruction of sites of memory enables the denial of history and creates formats for its further manipulation, in order to ask whether artistic practice can work as a method of writing history. In doing so I seek to answer how the state of memorialization of conflict is dealt with and whether artistic practice can serve as a method of reconciliation.

My research looks at pre-existing sites of conflict and seeks to answer:

How can artistic practice become a method of historical revisionism? How can the counter-monument movement be re-adapted and re-visited through its original ideologies, in the context of the Balkan conflicts?

The destruction of monuments plays a significant part in conflict as a method of annulling a conflicting identity. Equally, the destruction and removal of monuments represents an important move in the development of a new government, demonstrating new ideologies and political power over truths of historical events.

The inability to build a monument on a site for political reasons is also another method of inhibiting the memorialization of a conflict, and therefore disregarding its existence in history and the cultural identity of a people. The disappearance of monuments, their removal and replacement with new ones that are more ‘suitable’ for the political and social circumstances of the moment, plays a significant part in continuing the conflict.

There is also however a right to forgetting. There is a right to silence and forgetting as much as there is to public commemoration and remembering. The question is whether all people have the equal right to publicly remember and commemorate events and who should be making this decision.

Delegating the right to either express or suppress one or more histories becomes a problem when nations are in the stages of redevelopment. It is at this stage that, many times, certain parts of history are disregarded while others are embellished, some are given a voice and others are silenced. Today there are seemingly more possibilities for multi-vocal spaces expressed through channels that are not as easily controlled by nation states. Artistic research has, in the recent history, become an integral method of commenting on conflict, giving a voice that may be an alternative and valid method.

Through a series of case studies, artistic strategies will be challenged in order to contribute to the discussion of social and artistic representations of trauma, pain, history, political power, and social injustice and more specifically to create a method that institutes contemporary art as a valid actor of historical revisionism.

Manca Bajec is an artist and researcher whose current multidisciplinary work is situated in the realm of socio-politics and space, questioning representations of violence and power. She is a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art in London conducting research on the destruction and reconstruction of monuments. Bajec was born in Slovenia, grew up in the Middle East, and currently lives and works in London.

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