[UPDATE] Performances of Memory in the Arts (May 28-29, 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands




MAY 28-29, 2010


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
BEN HIGHMORE, Reader in Media Studies, University of Sussex, UK
LISA SALTZMAN, Professor of Art History, Bryn Mawr College, USA

The international conference Performances of Memory in the Arts pursues a new line of research in the crossover between Performance Studies and Memory Studies. By understanding memory as a performance, the organizers of the conference shift the focus to artistic practices of cultural memory. Art and popular culture enact memory and generate processes of memory. They do memory, and in this doing of memory new questions about the cultural dimensions of memory arise: How do art objects and artistic practices perform the past in the present? What is their relationship to the archive? Does the past speak in the performed past (or do we speak to it)? To what purpose do objects 'remember'? And for whom do they remember (or forget)?
The performative turn helps to understand cultural memory as a process of dealing with the past in the present that is embodied and mediated, linking a present to a past and to a future. Inviting a reconsideration of the persistence of the historical past in the present, it centers not only on nostalgic or 'presentist' aspects of cultural memory, but also on its historical and historicizing – as well as its utopian – facets. The concept of a performance of memory crucially opens up to the practice of 'doing memory'. Cultural memory is being performed in the codes of the art work. Art and popular culture are dynamic processes that mediate memory through narrative strategies, visual and aural styles, intertextual references and intermedial relations, re-enactments and ritual performances. They are thus engaged in non-linear processes of remembering and forgetting, collapsing time and space, and bringing the vicissitudes of desires, memories, and affects to the fore.

Central questions for this conference are:
- How do art objects and practices perform the past in the present?
- And how do they open up possibilities for a different future?
- How do art and popular culture 'do memory'?
- And what kinds of memory do they 'do'?

We are particularly interested:
- in analyses of what is at stake in the complex processes of remembering and forgetting, of recollecting and disremembering, of amnesia and anamnesis that make up cultural memory;
- in studies of how memory, performance and affect are contingent on one another in their relation to time, both looking forwards and backwards, while being performed in the present;
- and in explorations of how art and popular culture, in performing affective memories, may produce a relevant experience for the spectator, listener or reader.

The conference aims at covering a wide range of artistic disciplines: fine arts, literature, music, cinema, theatre, digital media and fashion. We welcome proposals for papers as well as for three-paper panels.

Possible topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Memory, migration, and emotion
  • Memory, trauma and identity 
  • The performative aspects of art; art as a memory trigger
  • Literary and artistic interventions in cultural forgetting
  • Consumer culture as planned obsolescence
  • The consumption of the past in contemporary fashion
  • Performances of photographic memory
  • Performing the archive; archival performances
  • Performing identity in the digital archive
  • Performing multidirectional memory
  • Engendering the performance of memory
  • Remembering forgotten writers and artists
  • Disremembering as a performance of memory
  • Memory and schizophrenia in cinema
  • 'Performance and mnemotechnology'; the impossibility of a natural memory
  • The Proustian memory as paradigm
  • Alzheimer as the ultimate or tragicomic performance of memory
  • The production of presence
  • The persistence of the historical past

Deadline for paper proposals: December 15, 2009 

Please submit your proposal for a 20-minute paper or for a panel session through the conference website: www.ru.nl/performances_of_memory_in_the_arts/   

Conference committee
Marguérite Corporaal, Vincent Meelberg, Liedeke Plate, Anneke Schulenberg, Anneke Smelik, Martijn Stevens, Wouter Weijers 

Research programme 'Performances of Memory'
coordinated by Liedeke Plate and Anneke Smelik 

Contact information