... a reflection 

Akhmatova's Monument by Barbara Chase Riboud

After being back in Oslo I stumbled over the work from Barbara Chase Riboud. The drawing of Akhmatova’s Monument appears like a detailed sketch for a maybe unrealised monument. It is an homage to Ana Akhmatov, who was a famous russian poet and wrote the poem Requiem, a poem without a hero.

Out of Anna Akhmatova’s poem Requiem:

I have a lot of work to do today;
I need to slaughter memory,
Turn my living soul to stone
Then teach myself to live again. . .
I see you, I hear you, I feel you:
The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet;
The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied,

'I arrive here as if I've come home!'
I'd like to name you all by name, but the list
Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words
I overheard you use. Everywhere, forever and always,
I will never forget one single thing. Even in new

The drawing shows a multitextured figure that is entangled in itself.  Multilayered texture define the actual monument, that seems to be quite fragile and easy to erase or to overpaint. The text that she wrote around it, seems to hold in in place, to protect it at the same time it does literally put it in a context. The ropes, pipes, hairs or wires that are incorporated into the monument at the same time the seem to tie themselves onto the monument, they seem to float around in the air, and move with some wind or maybe water?
To me, every line of the drawing plays a particular important role in the making of the monument. 

I missed a reflection onto our different experiences of Memorywork to put such a figure together in my mind. The Highlight of my day was always the collective reflection and mapping of the day with Arys and Belén with whom I was sharing a room. We called our output reflections Midnight Seminar. This seminars could last until 3am and felt like a outbreak of a dam that had been accumulating a lot of water over a day and then finally couldn’t hold it anymore. Still we are helding some midnight seminars, at other hours of the day, and sometimes in other constellations, and around other topics. But this way of self moderated talks seems to me like a very productive way of collective reflection. It is a playground on which one can test questions like: “On what do you want to get fedback” after presenting work and finally elaborate ways of speaking. I believe in other forms of reflecting than speaking in academic terms, I believe that often unfortunately we use words for sounding good, rather than for what they actually differenciate. That is this academic habitus that we think we have to feed to fit in. I like much more talks or discussions, with a little silence, because everyone is thinking. 

Today, a rainy saturday in november,  I was joining accidentally a demonstration for the ongoing serious conflict in Iran, that now have reached a new state with the new introduced possibility of death sentencing protesters. I was walking through Oslo on a saturday noon and trying to find a nice spot where to work, for once in while it is nice to not work in the studio. I stumbled over the second demonstration in solidarity with Iranian women right protesters in Iran who mainly demanded norway to reconsider the power of the iranian embassy. The protest was set in front of the Nobel Peace Center. I noticed, that the three entrance doors have Epigraphs of three different words that pose to be the guiding principles of the insitute. BROADMINDEDNESS, HOPE, COMMITMENT. The Demonstration was situated in front of the door captioned with COMMITMENT and from there the people were standing in a widening angle in front of the Nobel Peace Institute. They had music on very loud, Michael Jackson with They don’t care about us, John Lennon with Imagine and many more. I was very affected by the position of the demonstration, demanding COMMITMENT. I don’t know wether this was a coincidence, a regulation or if demonstrations there always will be held in front of that door, but in that moment of seeing people enter the Noble peace Center through the other doors, and look to the demonstrants or not, continue walking or not, go inside or join the protest, something happens. Out of the sudden they commit temporarily with their time and presence. It happened to me as well, that originally I wanted to work at another place than my studio, which brought me there. I joined for the whole demonstration. 

I experienced one part of work in memorywork starts with myself. Starting with the reflection on: What is my local community? as we were asked before as a class in the presentation of Hilde Ghosh Maisey at ROM Galleri,. From there everyone enters a path that cruises through memories.
Participating at the lab from Memorywork was facinating to me. My family is a puzzle of places, traumas, dreams, probably just like ever family.

When being in Berlin, I was reminding myself a lot on these unsolved question: what is my local community? Who are my local, and local in this case doesn’t only refer to a geographical closeness, comuniters?

For me this unraveled personally the need to also research what these stored memories are and to dig into the movements of my family in the past. There are a few threads that connect Poland, Germany, Ex-Jugoslavia and Chile, and  loads of hero-like stories that i know of. But I am wondering if through that personal Memorywork I may find stories of also other heroes that where overlooked. I am at the moment gathering all material, and hope to compose it at some point to a wider work.