Reading Images: On Memory and Place
Wednesday April 20, 2016
On the occasion of the opening of Memory Trace by Fazal Sheikh, Storefront for Art and Architecture will also present, Reading Images: On Memory and Place, moderated by Fazal Sheikh and exhibition curator Eduardo Cadava, with the participation of Sadia Abbas, Emmet Gowin, Amira Hass, Rashid Khalidi, Rosalind Morris, Sheia Sheikh, and Michael Wood.
It is perhaps because we have not yet fully understood the power and force of memory and its essential relation to forgetfulness and betrayal that there can be no end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war has provided evidence over the course of several decades not simply of the inevitable complicity between victory and defeat, between war and the rhetoric of peace, but also between memory and forgetfulness. These complicities have in a sense even revealed a determination to make war permanent.
In an ongoing peace process that seems to take the form of what Michel Foucault once called “a coded war” (the continuation of war through other means), there seems to be an insistence on certain ways of remembering the past, and of using these remembrances to understand the present and to imagine the future.
At stake in this conflict are questions of territory and the ownership of land, of legacies and inheritances, political and national identities, ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts, discrimination and economic oppression, and violence and retaliations of all kinds. Many of these questions can be viewed through the lens of what Mahmoud Darwish in 1973 called “a struggle between two memories.”
However various its manifestations may be, the question of memory affects every dimension of the conflict. If not for the struggles over what memory can be, or over which memories have more authority or force, there would, in fact, be no conflict. This is not to say that the violence, the injuries, the deaths, the destruction, the discrimination, and oppression that characterize the conflict are only issues of memory, but rather that they would never occur without this “struggle between two memories,” often one that is between more than two memories.
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
Sadia Abbas is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she is also affiliated with the Program in Women’s and Gender Studies. She specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, the culture and politics of Islam in modernity, early modern English literature—especially the literature of religious strife—and the history of twentieth-century criticism. She is also interested in European perceptions of Europe’s own history and identity, networks of cultural circulation in the Mediterranean, religion, theology and theory, the history of European Christianity, religious fundamentalisms, neoliberalism, the rise of the global right, gender and religion, early Netherlandish and Renaissance painting, and contemporary Pakistani art. Her book, At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament, was co-winner of the MLA First Book Prize in 2014. She is presently completing a novel entitled A Change of Color and a book-length study of varieties of Hellenism entitled Space in Another Time: Essays on Ruins and Monuments, in which she explores the importance of ruins in the Western imagination and their significance for conceptions of the nation-state.
Eduardo Cadava teaches in the Department of English at Princeton University. He is a faculty member in the summer program at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and he has been the Benjamin Menschel Distinguished Visiting Professor in Architecture at Cooper Union. He is the author of Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (1997) and Emerson and the Climates of History (1997), and co-editor of Who Comes After the Subject? (1991), Cities Without Citizens (2004), a special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly entitled And Justice for All?: The Claims of Human Rights (2004), and The Itinerant Languages of Photography (2013). He has co-curated installations and exhibitions at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, and the Princeton University Art Museum, and he has co-produced a DVD entitled Unpacking Derrida’s Library (2014), with recorded remarks by Judith Butler, Hélène Cixous, Hent de Vries, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Samuel Weber. He has recently introduced and co-translated Nadar’s memoirs, When I Was a Photographer (2015) and a collection of his essays on photography appeared in Spanish under the title La imagen en ruinas in 2015. His book Paper Graveyards: Essays on Art and Photography is forthcoming from Princeton University Press, and his book on Fazal Sheikh’s The Erasure Trilogy, Erasures, is forthcoming from Steidl.
Emmet Gowin is an American photographer who, following his marriage to Edith Morris in 1964, began making photographs of Edith, his sons Elijah and Isaac, and Edith’s extended family in Danville, intimate portrayals of the small rituals of everyday life. During the 1970s, he began to make landscape photographs and since the mid-1980s, he has explored the use of aerial photography to document the impact of human intervention in the environment. Over the course of his career, he has received numerous awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1979), the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the State of Pennsylvania (1983), the Friends of Photography Peer Award (1992), and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (1993). In 1997, Gowin was honored with the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University, where he taught from 1973 until his retirement in 2010. His work has been the subject of several monographs, including Emmet Gowin/Photographs (1976); Emmet Gowin: Photographs, 1966-1983 (1983); Emmet Gowin/Photographs: This Vegetable Earth Is But A Shadow (1990); Emmet Gowin: Aerial Photographs (1998); Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth (2002); Mariposas Nocturnas – Edith in Panama (2006); and most recently the catalogue for a retrospective at the MAPFRE Foundation in Madrid, Emmet Gowin.
Amira Hass is a journalist for the daily newspaper Ha’aretz, where she is the correspondent for the Occupied Territories. She is known for her reporting on Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, where she also has lived since 1997. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege, published in 2000, and, with Rachel Leah Jones, of Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land, published in 2003, and Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944-1945 (Haymarket Books, 2009). She has been the recipient of the World Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute in 2000, the Golden Dove of Peace Prize in 2001, the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Award in 2002, the UNESCO / Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2003, and the inaugural award from the Anna Lindh Memorial Fund in 2004. In 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Reporters Without Borders Prize for Press Freedom. She is presently a Global Faculty in Residence in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.
Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and chair of the Department of History at Columbia University. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970, and his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1974. He has taught at the Lebanese University, the American University of Beirut, Georgetown University, and at the University of Chicago. He is past President of the Middle East Studies Association, and the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies.
Khalidi is the author of seven books: Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. has Undermined Peace in the Middle East [2013: Lionel Trilling Book Award; MEMO Book Award]; Sowing Crisis: American Dominance and the Cold War in the Middle East ; The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood [2006: translated into French, Arabic and Hebrew]; Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East [2004: translated into French, Italian and Spanish]; Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness [1997: Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Prize for best book of 1997, translated into Arabic, French and Italian, and reissued with a new introduction in 2010]; Under Siege: PLO Decision-making during the 1982 War [1986: translated into Arabic and Hebrew and reissued with a new preface in 2014]; and British Policy towards Syria and Palestine, 1906-1914 . He has written over 110 scholarly articles, and is also the co-editor of Palestine and the Gulf (1982) and The Origins of Arab Nationalism .
Rosalind Morris is Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She has served as a Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, an Associate Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and is the former co-editor of CONNECT: art, politics, theory, culture. She is the author of In the Place of Origins: Modernity and its Mediums in Northern Thailand (2000) and the editor of Photographies East: The Camera and its Histories in East and Southeast Asia (2009) and Can the Subaltern Speak? Reflections on the History of an Idea (2010). Her most recent books include a volume of “conversations” with William Kentridge, and a new collaboration with the artist entitled Accounts and Drawings from Underground: The East Rand Proprietary Mines Cash Book, 1906, both published by Seagull Books. Her extended monograph on the art of Clive van den Berg, The Art of Clive van den Berg: Unlearning the Grounds of Art, was published by the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg) in 2011. Morris has been honored with the Lenfest Prize at Columbia University and the Lichstern lectures at the University of Chicago. She has also received fellowships from the Institutes for Advanced Study in Princeton and Stellenbosch (South Africa), as well as the Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy (IKKM), in Weimar, Germany.
Fazal Sheikh is an artist whose practice involves photographs, texts, moving images, and oral testimony. Many of his projects are concerned with complex human rights issues and he has a longstanding focus on the rights of displaced and dispossessed populations. For the last twenty-five years or so he has documented and recorded the mass phenomena of the refugee, and the modern history of displaced persons and peoples—in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Kenya, Brazil, and beyond. His work has been exhibited at, among other places, the Tate Modern in London, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, the International Center of Photography and the United Nations in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the MAPFRE Foundation in Madrid. It has garnered him the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Henri Cartier-Bresson International Grand Prize, and the Lucie Humanitarian Award. He also has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts, and, in 2005, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. His books include: A Sense of Common Ground (1996), The Victor Weeps (1998), A Camel for the Son (2001), Ramadan Moon (2001), Moksha (2005), Ladli (2007), The Circle (2008), Portraits (2011), and, most recently, The Erasure Trilogy (2015).
Shela Sheikh is Lecturer and Acting Convenor of the MA Program in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy in the Center for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to joining the Centre for Cultural Studies, Sheikh was Research Fellow and Publications Coordinator on the ERC-funded “Forensic Architecture” project based in the Centre for Research Architecture, and Associate Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths. Sheikh’s research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing together continental philosophy, post- and de-colonial studies, environmental humanities, literary theory, theatre and performance studies, and visual cultures. Central to her research are concepts and practices of witnessing, whether this be in the context of performative acts of political and ethical resistance; in the cultural politics of forensic anthropology, the “biographies” of bones in post-conflict milieus and performative public interventions into the politics of memory; in the role of visual cultures as evidentiary media and tools for activism; or in the exploration of plants and natural environments as “silent witnesses” to (historical and ongoing) colonial violence. Besides research and teaching, Shela has worked in publishing since 2005, most recently as Managing Editor and member of the editorial board of Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, ed. Forensic Architecture (2014), and as editor for Fazal Sheikh’s The Erasure Trilogy (2015).
Michael Wood is the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is one of the foremost literary and cultural critics in the English-speaking world. He has written books on Vladimir Nabokov, Luis Buñuel, Franz Kafka, and Gabriel García Márquez, as well as The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles (2003),, a study of the ancient and continuing allure of oracles. Among his other books are America in the Movies (1975) and Children of Silence: On Contemporary Fiction (1998). A member of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books. At Princeton University he teaches film, contemporary fiction, modern poetry and the theory and history of criticism. His most recent books are Literature and the Taste of Knowledge (2005), Yeats and Violence (2010), Film: A Very Short Introduction (2012), and Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much (2015).
ABOUT THE READING IMAGES SERIES
Storefront’s Reading Images Series brings together a group of scholars, architects, artists, and critics to look closely into images, and constructing arguments, narratives, and observations that produce incisive readings of form, politics, gaze, and representation.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Memory Trace brings a site-specific installation of part of the Israeli Separation Wall to the façade of Storefront’s gallery space. Presented behind the façade are photographs of ruins and landscapes of villages that were evacuated and mostly destroyed during the 1948 War, as well as portraits of Arab-Israelis and Palestinians who were living in these villages and were displaced by the war or forced into refugee camps.
The exhibition is presented as part of Erasures, a project by Fazal Sheikh that seeks to explore the legacies of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel and in the reconfiguration of territorial borders across the region.
Learn more here.