YoungTextureMem

YoungTextureMem - .. .J (1: mr a Li; M Wit Intro duction...

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Unformatted text preview: .. .J (1: mr a Li; M Wit Intro duction The Texture of Memory Forgetting the extermination is part of the extermination itself. —Iean Baudrillard No one can become what he cannot find in his memories. ——]ean Amery So this story will not finish with some tomb to be visited in pious memory. For the smoke that rises from crematoria obeys physical laws like any other: the particles come together and disperse according to the wind, which propels them. The only pilgrimage, dear reader, would be to look sadly at a stormy sky now and then. —-—Andre Schwarz-Bart The further events of World War II recede into time, the more prominent its memorials become. As the period of Holocaust is shaped in the survivors’ diaries pending on where and by whom these memorials are constructed, these sites remember the past according to a variety of national myths, ideals, and political needs. Some recall war dead, others resistance, and still others mass murder. All 2 Introduction reflect both the past experiences and current lives of their communities, as well as the state’s memory of itself. At a more specific level, these memorials also reflect the temper of the memory-artists’ time, their place in aesthetic discourse, their media'and materials. Memory is never shaped in a vacuum; the motives of memory are never pure. Both the reasons given for Holocaust memorials and the kinds of memory they generate are as various as the sites themselves. Some are built in response to traditional Iewish injunctions to remember, others according to a government’s need to explain a nation’s past to itself. Where the aim of some memorials is to educate the next generation and to inculcate in it a sense of shared experi— ence and destiny, other memorials are conceived as eXpiations of guilt or as self-aggrandizement. Still others are intended to attract tourists. In addition to traditional Iewish memorial iconography, every state has its own institutional forms of remembrance. As a result, Holocaust memorials inevitably mix national and Iewish figures, political and religious imagery. In Germany, for example, memorials to this time recall Iews by their absence, German victims by their political resistance. In Poland, countless memorials in former death camps and across the countryside commemorate the whole of Polish destruction through the figure of its murdered Iewish part. In Israel, martyrs and heroes are remembered side by side, both redeemed by the birth of the state. by distinctly American ideals and experiencesw—such as liberty, pluralism, and immigration. By themselves, monuments are of little value, mere stones in the landscape. But as part of a nation’s rites or the objects of a people’s national pilgrimage, they are invested with national soul and memory. For traditionally, the statesponsored memory of a national past aims to affirm the righteousness of a nation’s birth, even its divine election. The matrix of a nation’s monuments emplots the story of ennobling events, of triumphs over barbarism, and recalls the martyrdom of those who gave their lives in the struggle for national existence—who, in the martyro- logical refrain, died so that a country might live. In assuming the idealized forms and meanings assigned this era by the state, memorials tend to concretize par- ticular historical interpretations. They suggest themselves as indigenous, even geological outcroppings in a national landscape; in time, such idealized memory grows as natural to the eye as the landscape in which it stands. Indeed, for memo- rials to do otherwise would be to undermine the very foundations of national legitimacy, of the state’s seemingly natural right to exist. The relationship between a state and its memorials is not one-sided, however. On the one hand, official agencies are in position to shape memory explicitly as they see fit, memory that best serves a national interest. On the other hand, once created, memorials take on lives of their own, often stubbornly resistant to the state’s original intentions. In some cases, memorials created in the image of a state’s ideals actually turn around to recast these ideals in the memorial’s own image. New generations visit memorials under new circumstances and invest them with new meanings. The result is an evolution in the memorial’s signifi- cance, generated in the new times and company in which it finds itself. The capacity for change in memorials has not always been so apparent, however. For, traditionally, the monument has been defined as that which by its seemingly land—anchored permanence could also guarantee the permanence of a particular idea or memory attached to it. In this conception, the monument would remain essentially impervious to time and change, a perpetual witness—relic to a person, event, or epoch. Hence, the first monuments mentioned in the Bible: at small pil~ lar and a witness heap of stones (gal-ed) gathered to mark the agreement between Laban and Iacob (Gen. 31:45—48], the matzevah (tombstone) Iacob erected on Rachel’s grave (Gen. 35:20]. In both cases, the monuments would suggest them- selves as everlasting remnant—witnesses by which subsequent generations would remember past events and people. At this point, a clarification of terms may be in order. Many presume that “memorials” recall only past deaths or tragic events and provide places to mourn, while “monuments” remain essentially celebratory markers of triumphs and heroic individuals. In this vein, Arthur Danto has written that “we erect monu- ments so that we shall always remember and build memorials so that we shall never forget. Thus, we have the Washington Monument but the Lincoln Memo- rial. Monuments commemorate the memorable and embody the myths of begin- nings. Memorials ritualize remembrance and mark the reality of ends. . . . Monu- ments make heroes and triumphs, victories and conquests, perpetually present and part of life. The memorial is a special precinct, extruded from life, a segre- gated enclave where we honor the dead. With monuments, we honor ourselves.“l But in fact, the traditional monument (the tombstone) can also be used as a mourning site for lost loved ones, just as memorials have marked past victo— ries. A statue can be a monument to heroism and a memorial to tragic loss, an obelisk can memorialize a nation’s birth and monumentalize leaders fallen before their prime. Insofar as the same object can perform both functions, there may be nothing intrinsic to historical markers that makes them either a monument or a memorial. 3 Introduction 4 Introduction In this study, therefore, I prefer to distinguish a memorial from a monument only in a broader, more generic sense: there are memorial books, memorial ac- tivities, memorial days, memorial festivals, and memorial sculptures. Some of these are mournful, some celebratory: but all are memorials in a larger sense. Monuments, on the other hand, will refer here to a subset of memorials: the material objects, sculptures, and installations used to memorialize a person or thing. For the purposes of this book, I treat all memory-sites as memorials, the plastic objects Within these sites as monuments. A memorial may be a day, a con- ference, or a space, but it need not be a monument. A monument, on the other hand, is always a kind of memorial. In the last century, the very idea of the memorial—monument and its place in modern culture has grown no less contentious than its definition. Indeed, the tra- ditional assumption of the monument’s timelessness has nearly relegated it as a form to the margins of modern discourse. For once it was recognized that monu- ments necessarily mediate memory, even as they seek to inspire it, they came to be regarded as displacements of the memory they were supposed to embody. Even worse, by insisting that its memory was as fixed as its place in the landscape, the monument seemed to ignore the essential mutability in all cultural artifacts. “What is the use to the modern man of this ‘monumental’ contemplation of the past?” Nietzsche asked. “Monumental” was, after all, Nietzsche’s disdains ful epithet for any version of history calling itself permanent and ever—lasting, a petrified history that buried the living.l A few years later, Lewis Mumford echoed Nietzsche ’s scorn for the monumental when he pronounced the death of the monument insofar as it seemed hopelessly incompatible with his sense of modern architectural forms. “The notion of a modern monument is veritably a contradiction in terms,” he wrote. “If it is a monument, it is not modern, and if it is modern,r it cannot be a monument.“ In Mumford’s view, the monument defied the very essence of modern urban civilization: the capacity for renewal and rejuvenation. Where modern architec- ture invites the perpetuation of life itself, encourages renewal and change, and scorns the illusion of permanence, Mumford wrote, “Stone gives a false sense of continuity, and a deceptive assurance of life” (p. 434). Instead of changing and adapting to its environment, the monument remained static, a mummification of ancient, probably forgotten ideals. Instead of placing their faith in the powers of biological regeneration, fixing their images in their children, the eminent and powerful had traditionally sought in their vanity a petrified immortality. In Mumford’s words, “They write their boasts upon tomb- stones ; they incorporate their deeds in obelisks, they place their hopes of remem- solid stones, dedicated to their subjects brance in solid stones joined to other heirs forever, forgetful of the fact that stones that are deserted by the than life that remains unprotected and preserved or their living are even more helpless by stones” (p. 434). Indeed, after his mentor Patrick Geddes, Mumford suggests that it was usually the shakiest of regimes that installed the least movable monu- ' for having accomplished nothing worthier by which to as bury them altogether beneath layers of national myths and explanations:1+ As cultural reifications, in this view, monuments reduce or, in Broszat’s words, “coarsen” historical understanding as much as they generate it. In another vein, art historian Rosalind Krauss finds that the modernist period produces monu— ments unable to refer to anything beyond themselves as pure marker or base? After Krauss, we might ask, in fact, whether an abstract, self-referential monu- ment can ever commemorate events outside of itself. Or must it motion endlessly a commemoration of its essence as dislocated sign, 5 Introduction Still others have argued that rather than embodying memory, the monument displaces it altogether, supplanting a community’s memory—work with its own material form. “The less memory is experienced from the inside,” Pierre Nora warns, “the more it exists through its exterior scaffolding and outward signs.”“" If the obverse of this is true as well, then perhaps the more memory comes to rest in its exteriorized forms, the less it is experienced internally. In this age of proportion between the memorializa study. For once we assign monumental form to memory, divested ourselves of the obligation to remember. In shouldering the memory— work, monuments may relieve viewers of their memory burden. As Nora concludes, “Memory has been wholly absorbed by its meticulous re- the reSponsibility of remembering, i a snake sheds its skin” (p. 13). As a result, the memorial operation remains self— contained and detached from our daily lives. Under the illusion that our memo- rial edifices will always be there to remind us, we take leave of them and return we encourage monuments to do our 6 Introduction Added to this is a contemporary skepticism of the supposedly common values all bring to public spaces, one of the reasons for the uprising against so much public art. “In the absence of shared belief and even common interests,” John Hallmark Neff writes, “it should not be surprising that so much of the well- intentioned art acquired for public spaces has failed—failed as art and as art for a H? civic site. That is, Neff suggests, without a set of shared expectations, beliefs, or interests, artists and their prospective public audience have no grounds for engagement, no common cultural language in which they might even argue their respective views. But this formulation may overlook one of the basic functions of all “public art”: to create shared spaces that lend a common Spatial frame to otherwise disparate eXperiences and understanding. Rather than presuming a common set of ideals, the public monument attempts to create an architectonic ideal by which even competing memories may be figured. In this light, Neff’s observation might be modified: in the absence of shared beliefs or common interests, art in public spaces may force an otherwise fragmented populace to frame diverse values and ideals in common spaces. By creating common spaces for memory, monuments propagate the illusion of common memory. As in any state’s official use of commemorative spaces, this function of monu- ments is clear most of all to the governments themselves. Though the utOpian vision may hold that monuments are unnecessary as reminders when all can re- member for themselves, Maurice Halbwachs has argued persuasively that it is primarily through membership in religious, national, or class groups that peOple are able to acquire and then recall their memories at all.R That is, both the reasons for memory and the forms memory takes are always socially mandated, part of a socializing system whereby fellow citizens gain common history through the vicarious memory of their forbears’ experiences. If part of the state’s aim, there- fore, is to create a sense of shared values and ideals, then it will also be the state’s aim to create the sense of common memory, as foundation for a unified polis. Public memorials, national days of commemoration, and shared calendars thus all work to create common loci around which national identity is forged. To the extent that all societies depend on the assumption of shared experience and memory for the very basis of their common relations, a society’s institutions are automatically geared toward creating a shared memory—or at least the illu- sion of it. By creating the sense of a shared past, such institutions as national memorial days, for example, foster the sense of a common present and future, even a sense of shared national destiny. In this way, memorials provide the sites where groups of people gather to create a common past for themselves, places 'Fwiwu-uI-fipi— Inn-I'I-IlbII-HI- dl-fi‘" ' .- ' where they tell the constitutive narratives, their “shared” stories of the past. They become communities precisely by having shared [if only vicariously) the experi— ences of their neighbors. At some point, it may even be the activity of remem- - once ritualized, remembering The Site of Memory In keeping with the bookish, iconoclastic ‘ ” to the Holocaust period came not in stone, glass, or steel———but in side of Iewish tradition, the first destruction of European lewish communities according to the most ancient of of our relatives and friends, the Jews of Pshaytsk, will also serve as a substitute grave. Whenever we pick up the book we will feel we are standing next to their grave, because even that the murderers denied them.” The scribes hoped that, when read, the Yizkor Bikher would turn the site of Introduction reading into memorial space. In need of cathartic ceremony, in response to what has been called “the missing gravestone syndrome,” survivors thus created in— , as the first sites for memory.10 Only later were its space is still too little studied. For a monument necessarily transforms an and made part of a larger locale. This tension between site and memorial can be relieved by a seemingly natural eittension of site by monument, or it can be Taken further, a monument becomes a point of reference amid other parts of the landscape, one node among others in a topographical matrix that orients the 7 8 Introduction A stainless steel obelisk situated in an empty field, for example, generates dif- ferent meanings from that situated in a neighborhood shopping mall. Instead of being the only thing standing, it is one of several towers, barely noticed, sur- rounded by large buildings. American monuments, in particular, are placed often to maximize opportunities for symbolic meaning: the US. Holocaust Memorial Museum” on the Mall in Washington, DC, necessarily resonates to other nearby national monuments. The Museum of Iewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, planned for the Battery in New York, will form part of an immigrant triad, with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in sight. Likewise, the Libera- tion monument in Liberty Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, echoes the ideals and theme of the Statue of Liberty on the skyline in the background. A new Holo- caust memorial in Boston, whatever shape it finally takes, will derive further American meaning from its place on the “Freedom Trail.” The Art of the Monument In every case, Holocaust memorials reflect not only national and communal re- membrance, or their geographical locations, but also the memorial designer’s own time and place. For, like their generational counterparts in literature and music, most of the contemporary artists commissioned to design memorials re- main answerable to both art and memory. In a hypothetical marker they designed for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, for example, the Starn twins have over- laid sepia-tinted automat photographs of Anne onto an enlarged page of her diary. Instead of segmenting these photographs, they have left them intact in two series of three, placed side by side, almost twinlike. The diary page, Frank’s last, is dated and so recalls the dates of a tombstone, her epitaph self-inscribed. Hans Haacke, as he has done so effectively with the icons of big business, res- urrected a Nazi memorial in Graz, Austria, in order to remind all of the site"s complicitons past. In BezugSpunkte 38/ 88, a city-wide installation, the artist duplicated the Nazis’ draping of the town’s patron saint in swastika—emblazoned banners in order to turn the image of Nazism against itself.11 Haackc’s “point of reference” was itself turned inside-out when nco—Nazis torched the monument, an act which the artist then incorporated into the text of the memorial by adding the inscription: “On the night of 9 November 1938, all synagogues in Austria were looted, destroyed, and set on fire. And during the night of 2 November 1988, this memorial was destroyed by a fire bomb.” ‘1 In an installation entitled Memorial, Christian Boltanski has likewise extended his earlier work, mixing fuzzy photographs, light bulbs, and wires to recall a Iewish day school, the instruments of memory, and the resulting difficulty of memory. Sol Lewitt’s black cube set in the square of a former palace in Munster recalled both the absent Iews of the city and his own geometrical forms—“before the monument itself was dismantled by town authorities. When commissioned to create a monument for San Francisco, George Segal turned reflexively to his white plaster figures, using an Israeli survivor as his primary model. In fact, as Albert Elsen reminds us, for many contemporary artists, the needs of art, not the public or memory, come first.13 For artists working in an era of abstract ex- pressionism, earthworks, and conceptual art, and for architects answerable to postmodern and deconstructivist design, the perceived public audience is often none other than themselves. While contemporary designs are welcomed by the artists and architects, critics and curators, however, they often run up against a wall not only of public bewil- derment but also of survivor outrage. For many survivors believe that the searing reality of their experiences demands as literal a memorial expression as possible. “We weren’t tortured and our families weren’t murdered in the abstract,” the survivors complain, “it was real.” In reference to his Warsaw Ghetto Monument, for example, the sculptor Nathan Rapoport once asked plaintively, “Could I have made a rock with a hole in it and said, 'Voila! The heroism of the Iewish people’?” Probably not. All of which raises the question of the dual roles of public and memory in public art: for, as becomes clear, not every work of public art is a monument, not every memorial a work of public art. Though not a historical monument, Richard Serra’s Til ted Arc and its removal from the government plaza in New York exemplify the dilemma. On the one hand, Tilted Arc was scrupulously true to its maker’s vision, his material, his time and place. At the same time, however, it was precisely the work’s integrity and brilliance that alienated the very public it was intended for. Tilted Arc could not have it both ways: it could not please a community of artists who almost unanimously supported it and lay viewers disturbed by what they perceived as a violation of their public space. The conundrum remains: how is the artist going to be answerable both to his discourse and to public taste at the same time? How is she to balance the needs of a lay public against the occasionally obscure sensibilities of contemporary art—all of which depend on civic administrative approval? Nor is this dilemma particularly new. For, as Elsen has also noted, modern and avant-garde sculptors between the wars in Europe were rarely invited to com- memorate either the victories or losses, battles or war-dead of World War I.”1 The reluctance on the part of donors and government sponsors to commission abstract memorials, in particular, seems to have stemmed from two parallel im- pulses in the public and state. War-related memorials were perceived generally 9 Introduction 10 Introduction as intended to valorize the suffering in such a way as to justify it historically. This aim was best accomplished by recalling traditional heroic icons in order to invest memory of a recent war with past pride and loyalties, which would also explain the recent war in ways visible and seemingly self—evident to the public. In both cases, figurative imagery seemed best to naturalize the state’s memorial messages. It was clear to those in position to memorialize World War I that the primary aim of modern sculptors after the war was to repudiate and lament—not to affirm_both the historical realities and the archaic values seeming to have Spawned them. Not that many of the modern sculptors would have shown much interest in such projects to begin with. At what was regarded as the nadir of European civili- zation, artists and monument makers vociferously resisted traditional mimetic and heroic evocations of events, contending that any such remembrance would elevate and mythologize events. In their view, yet another classically propor— tioned Prometheus would have falsely glorified and thereby affirmed the horrible suffering they were called upon to commemorate. In the minds of many graphic and literary artists of the time, this would have been tantamount to betraying not only their experience of the Great War, but also the new reasons for art’s existence after the war: to challenge the world’s realities and the conventions encouraging them. If figurative statuary were demanded of them, then only antiheroic fig- ures would do, as exemplified in the pathetic heroes of Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s Fallen Man and Seated Youth [1917). As true to the artists’ interwar vision as these works may have been, however, neither public nor state seemed ready to abide memorial edifices built on foundations of doubt instead of valor. The pathetic hero was thus condemned by emerging totalitarian regimes in Germany and Russia as defeatist for seeming to embody all that was worth forgetting—not remembering—in the war. In addition to the ways abstraction was thought to ameliorate a work’s sense of mimetic witness, it also seemed to frustrate the memorial’s capacity as locus for shared self-image and commonly held ideals. In its hermetic and personal vision, abstraction encourages private visions in viewers, which would defeat the com- munal and collective aims of public memorials. On the one hand, the specificity of realistic figuration would seem to thwart multiple messages, while abstract sculpture could accommodate as many meanings as could be projected onto it. But in fact, it is almost always a figurative monument like the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial that serves as point of departure for political performances. It is as if figurative sculpture were needed to engage viewers with likenesses of peOple, to evoke an empathic link between viewer and monument that might then be marshaled into particular meaning. ' “.1”- The fundamental dilemma facing contemporary monument makers is thus two- sided and recalls that facing prospective witnesses in any medium: first, how does one refer to events in a medium doomed to refer only to itself? And sec- ond, if the aim is to remember—that is, to refer to—a specific person, defeat, or victory, how can it be done abstractly? For many who survived solely to testify to the Holocaust, memory and testimony are one: witness for these survivors entails the most literal transmission possible of what they saw and experienced. Since few survivors would regard themselves as witness to form alone, as became clear in the art recovered from the ghettos and camps, even artists of the avant~ garde redefined their aesthetic task as testimonial realists.” What has come to be regarded as “documentary” art and literature seemed to them the only mode in which evidence or witness could be delivered. But as historians and literary critics have come to accept the impulse in writers to testify in narrative, even still offer artists the widest possible variety of expression. Maya Lin’s succinctly abstract Vietnam Veterans Memorial, for example, commemorates the nation’s ambivalence toward the Vietnam War and its veterans in ways altogether unavail- able in figuration.” Instead of merely condemning the figurative mode as archaic and out of touch, however, we might acknowledge the need in public audiences for figuration, even as we recall the constructed nature of figurative iconography. In this way, we can keep monumental figuration from naturalizing itself, from putting a finish on its significance. ignore the essentially public dimension of their performance, remaining either formally aestheticist or almost piously historical. So while it is true that a sculp— tor like Nathan Rapoport will never be regarded by art historians as highly as his contemporaries Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore, neither can his work be dismissed solely on the basis of its popular appeal. Unabashedly figurative, heroic, and referential, his work seems to be doomed critically by precisely those qualities—public accessibility and historical referentiality-n—that make it monu- 11 Introduction 12 Introduction mental. But in fact, it may be just this public appeal that finally constitutes the monument’s aesthetic performance—and that leads such memorials to demand public and historical disclosure, even as they condemn themselves to critical obscurity. Instead of stopping at formal questions, or at issues of historical ref- erentiality, we must go on to ask how memorial representations of history may finally weave themselves into the course of ongoing events. While questions of high and low art may well continue to inform the discussion surrounding Holocaust monuments, they must not dictate the critical discussion any longer. Instead, we might keep in mind the reductivefl—occasionally vulgar—- excesses in popular memorial representations, even as we qualify our definitions of kitsch and challenge its usefulness as a critical category for the discussion of public monuments. Rather than patronizing mass tastes, we must recognize that public taste carries weight and that certain conventional forms in avowedly pub- lic art may eventually have consequences for public memory—whether or not we think they should. This is to acknowledge the unfashionable, often archaic aspects of so many Holocaust memorials, even as we look beyond them. It is also to recognize that public art like this demands additional critical criteria if the lives and meanings of such works are to be sustained—and not oppressed-by art historical discourse. For there is a difference between avowedly public art—exemplified by public monuments like these—and art produced almost exclusively for the art world, its critics, other artists, and galleries, which has yet to be properly recognized. People do not come to Holocaust memorials because they are new, cutting—edge, or fashionable, as the critics are quick to note, most of these memorials are none of these. Where contemporary art is produced as self- or medium—reflexive, public Holocaust monuments are produced specifically to be historically referential, to lead viewers beyond themselves to an understanding or evocation of events. As public monuments, these memorials generally avoid referring hermetically to the processes that brought them into being. Where contemporary art invites viewers and critics to contemplate its own materiality, or its relationship to other works before and after itself, the aim of memorials is not to call attention to their own presence so much as to past events because they are no longer present. In this sense, Holocaust memorials attempt to point immediately beyond themselves. In their fusion of public art and popular culture, historical memory and political consequences, therefore, these monuments demand an alternative critique that goes beyond questions of high and low art, tastefulness and vulgarity. Rather than merely identifying the movements and forms on which public memory is borne, or asking whether or not these monuments reflect past history accurately or fash- suggests itself as a basis for political ionably, we turn to the many ways this art and social action. That is, we might ask not only memory at the time, and how the monument reflects past how the monument maker’s era and training shaped monument plays in current history. r bad art, and more with what between people and their monuments, but the consequences of these relations in historical time. Whereas some art historians have traditionally dismissed such approaches to social, or psychological, others have opened their inquiry this case art as anthropological, to include larger issues of the sociology of art: public memorials in are exemplary of an artwork’s social life, its life in society’s mind. As Marianne 13 Doezema has suggested, there is much more to the monuments performance Introduction expression of an individual artist, ' and therefore can and should be evaluated in terms of its capacity to generate human reactions.“1"’ To my mind, such reaction refers not just to an emotional tion is not, How are peepl have they been moved, to what historical conclusions, to what understanding and actions in their own lives? This is to suggest that we cannot separate the monument from its public life, that the social function of such art is its aesthetic performance. “There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument,“ Robert Musil once . “They are no doubt erected to be seem—indeed, to attract attention. But at the same time they are impregnated with something that repels attention.“ 30 This “something” is the essential stiffness monuments share with all other images: as a likeness necessarily vitrifies its otherwise dynamic referent, a monument turns pliant memory to stone. And it is this “finish” that repels our attention, that makes a monument invisible. It is as if a monuments life in the communal mind grows as hard and polished as its exterior form, its significance as fixed as its place in the landscape. For monuments at rest like this——in stasis-—seem l4 Introduc tion to present themselves as eternal parts of the landscape, as naturally arranged as nearby trees or rock formations. As an inert piece of stone, the monument keeps its own past a tightly held secret, gesturing away from its own history to the events and meanings we bring to it in our visits. Precisely because monuments seem to remember everything but their own past, their own creation, my critical aim will be to reinvest the monument with our memory of its coming into being. None of this is intended to fix the monuments meaning in time, which would effectively embalm it. In- stead, I hOpe to reinvigorate this monument with the memory of its acquired past, to vivify memory of events by writing into it our memory of the monuments origins. By returning to the memorial some memory of its own genesis, we remind our- selves of the memorial’s essential fragility, its dependence on others for its life , that it was made by human hands in human times and places, that it is no more a natural piece of the landscape than we are. For, unlike words on a page, memorial icons seem literally to embody ideas, to invite viewers to mistake material pres- ence and weight for immutable permanence. If, in its glazed exteriority, we never really see the monument, I shall attempt to crack its eidetic veneer, to loosen meaning, to make visible the activity of memory in monuments. It is my hOpe that such a critique may save our icons of remembrance from hardening into idols of remembrance.11 For too often a community’s monuments assume the polished, finished veneer of a death mask, unreflective of current memory, unresponsive to contemporary issues. Instead of enshrining an already enshrined memory, the present study might provide a uniquely instructive glimpse of the monument’s inner life-— the tempestuous social, political, and aesthetic forces—normally hidden by a monument’s taciturn exterior. By drawing back into view the memorial-making process, we invigorate the very idea of the monument, thereby reminding all such cultural artifacts of their coming into being, their essential constructedness. To this end, I enlarge the life and texture of Holocaust memorials to include: the times and places in which they were conceived, their literal construction amid historical and political realities; their finished forms in public spaces, their places in the constellation of national memory, and their ever-evolving lives in the minds of their communities and of the Iewish people over time. With these dimensions in mind, we look not only at the ways individual monuments create and reinforce particular memory of the Holocaust period, but also at the ways events re-enter political life shaped by monuments. Taken together, these stages comprise a genuine activity of memory, by which artifacts of ages past are invigo- bered past? This is to recognize that the shape of me from the actions taken in its behalf;r and that memory without consequences membered at all. 15 Introduction ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/12/2011 for the course HISTORY 0848 taught by Professor Davidwatt during the Spring '10 term at Temple.

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YoungTextureMem - .. .J (1: mr a Li; M Wit Intro duction...

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