You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It – the deconstruction of an amnesia

Irena Bekić

Vi-ste-Partiju-izdale.pdf web

Text from the first publi­ca­ti­on of the pro­ject “You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It”

When in the mid-eig­h­ti­es the French his­to­ri­an and publi­sher Pierre Nora began to publish the three volu­mes of his work Realms of Memory (Les Lieux de Mémoire),1 he set off a dis­cu­ssi­on among scho­lar­ly cir­cles regar­ding memory, his­tory and remem­be­ring. Analysing nar­ra­ti­ves, prac­ti­ces and repre­sen­ta­ti­ons of nati­onal memory in France, he viewed them as a dis­co­ur­se that is his­to­ri­cal­ly con­tin­gent and uns­ta­ble, and both remem­be­ring and memory as cul­tu­ral cons­truc­ts that affect one anot­her in a dialec­tic rela­ti­on­ship of sin­gu­la­rity and gene­ra­li­sed struc­tu­re. In his book, Cultural Memory, Jan Assmann sug­ges­ts somet­hing simi­lar. Memory to him is a cul­tu­ral prac­ti­ce, a sphe­re of “bin­ding obli­ga­ti­ons that bring order, meaning, and cohe­si­on both to the tem­po­ral and the soci­al dimen­si­ons of the wor­ld”, thro­ugh who­se esta­bli­sh­ment “it is only possi­ble to recons­truct the past on which memory and his­tory depend”.2 Since col­lec­ti­ve memory is often reali­sed wit­hin the doma­in of ide­olo­gi­es, and modi­fi­ed accor­ding to the dis­po­si­ti­ons of soci­al power, it ser­ves as the con­so­li­da­ting tissue of soci­ety and the pro­mi­se of his­to­ri­cal meaning. However, just as every sys­tem con­ta­ins its own nega­ti­ve impre­ssi­on, that is, that which has been omit­ted from it, col­lec­ti­ve memory too con­ta­ins the gaps whe­re pla­ces of inten­ti­onal for­get­ful­ness lie. It so hap­pens that in the cons­truc­ti­on of nati­onal his­to­ri­cal nar­ra­ti­ves, tho­se memo­ri­es that are incon­gru­ous, even if fra­gi­le and faded, are exclu­ded from soci­ety by means of sys­te­ma­tic amne­sia or neglect. Official his­tory, Walter Benjamin wri­tes, is the deafe­ning dis­co­ur­se of the vic­tor, but the silen­ced voices do also exist. We sho­uld not acce­de to the legacy of deaf­ness, he war­ns us, beca­use the tra­umas of the oppre­ssed demand redemp­ti­on.3 This prag­ma­tic requ­est in human unity4 and the soli­da­rity we need, are the star­ting points of Andreja Kulunčić’s work abo­ut the plig­ht of women on Goli Otok.

Goli Otok is pre­sent in the col­lec­ti­ve memory as a sym­bol of Communist repre­ssi­on, of suf­fe­ring and mar­tyr­dom. When Jan Assman hig­hlig­h­ts the role of spa­ce in the cul­tu­re of memory in the afo­re­men­ti­oned book, he sta­tes that enti­re lan­d­s­ca­pes can ser­ve as the medi­um for cul­tu­ral memory.5 However, for some pla­ce to be mar­ked by a monu­ment, or be semi­oti­ci­sed itself, the­re needs to be a con­sen­sus in the com­mu­nity on com­me­mo­ra­ting this memory. And con­sen­sus is exac­tly what was absent from the dis­cu­ssi­ons abo­ut the cam­ps for poli­ti­cal pri­so­ners on Goli Otok, an issue explo­red by the femi­nist the­orist Renata Jambrešić Kirin. Institutional neglect and poli­ti­cal mani­pu­la­ti­on have obs­truc­ted the path towar­ds the his­to­ri­sa­ti­on of Goli Otok, pro­fe­ssi­onal appra­isals, as well as any possi­ble com­me­mo­ra­ti­on in the form of a monu­ment. Besides, „this bri­ef tota­li­ta­ri­an epi­so­de of repre­ssi­ve des­ta­li­ni­sa­ti­on (…) never got its legal deno­uement, nor did its vic­tims rece­ive poli­ti­cal reha­bi­li­ta­ti­on”.6 And this was not all. The com­ple­te disre­gard of the exis­ten­ce of the fema­le camp, which held a total of aro­und 860 women who were often guil­ty of no more than having been the rela­ti­ves or wives of accu­sed Cominformists, cast an addi­ti­onal shro­ud over this obs­cu­re seg­ment of Croatian his­tory. Institutional neglect and poli­tic­king, uncon­trol­led tourism by pri­va­te con­ce­ssi­on-hol­ders on Goli Otok, and, as if in a gro­tesque tran­sfi­gu­ra­ti­on or a poor vaude­vil­li­an per­for­man­ce, the desig­na­ti­on of Sv. Grgur as a deer hun­ting gro­und, are merely fur­t­her devas­ta­ti­ons of his­tory on the Goli Archipelago, and women’s his­tory in particular.

Awareness of the res­pon­si­bi­lity which Benjamin appe­als to is what set in moti­on the artis­tic pro­jec­ts, Goli Otok – New Croatian Tourism by the artist and ori­gi­na­tor of the idea Damir Čergonja Čarli in 2000, and the Environment of Memory by Darko Bavoljak in 2016. In a three-year peri­od, Bavoljak orga­ni­sed and pro­du­ced tem­po­rary com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve in situ inter­ven­ti­ons and artis­tic ges­tu­res by some seven­ty invi­ted artis­ts. One of them was Andreja Kulunčić, who ini­ti­ated the com­plex pro­ject, You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with Bavoljak. This pro­ject was the only one that soug­ht to focus on the fema­le part of the camp, with the inten­ti­on of gras­ping and making visi­ble this com­plex set of issu­es, and with the end goal of intro­du­cing it into the public spa­ce. If Goli Otok, as Renata Jambrešić Kirin wri­tes, “is the cyclo­pe­an island of the Croatian poli­ti­cal myt­ho­logy”,7 then the women’s pri­son is the cyclo­pe­an pro­blem of this same policy, as it seems that the silen­ce that accom­pa­ni­es the women’s pri­son is part of the same silen­ce that sur­ro­un­ds women’s his­tory, not only wit­hin the fra­mework of the phe­no­me­non of the Goli Otok pri­son camp, but also of the Socialist Yugoslavian, as well as the sub­sequ­ent post-soci­alist, soci­ety. Patriarchal divi­si­ons of power defi­ned the logis­tics of the cam­ps, but the few modern inter­pre­ta­ti­ons were equ­al­ly una­ble to esca­pe this men­tal fra­mework. For this reason, the work of Renata Jambrešić Kirin as one of the few, if not the sole, aut­hor who focu­ssed her rese­ar­ch on the plig­ht of women has a pre­ci­ous sta­ke in the pro­cess of shed­ding lig­ht on the topic of Goli Otok. Taking femi­nist the­ory as the star­ting point for her rese­ar­ch, she has shown that the femi­nist posi­ti­on would appe­ar to be the only one equ­ip­ped with the means to grasp and decons­truct the patri­ar­c­hal con­cept writ­ten into the struc­tu­re and fun­c­ti­oning of the camp. The fema­le camp, she war­ned, was not affixed to, or a vari­ant of, the male camp, as it is usu­al­ly repre­sen­ted, but an “ori­gi­nal site for the prac­ti­ce of the Foucauldian ana­to­mo-poli­tics of bre­aking and dis­ci­pli­ning the body”8 as the cru­ci­al con­cept of re-edu­ca­ti­on. This also inclu­ded oppre­ssi­on and violen­ce in which women recre­ated the pat­ter­ns of patri­ar­c­hal beha­vi­our such as aggre­ssi­ve­ness, ver­bal abu­se and simi­lar, pro­du­cing in this sick turn the­ir own nega­ti­on of the­ir sel­ves. The split with the­ir own cha­rac­ter for having been “both vic­tims and exe­cu­ti­oners”9 is the reason behind the silen­ce of the for­mer inma­tes, who fur­t­her­mo­re had to face the tacit, yet deafe­ning accu­sa­ti­ons of a patri­ar­c­hal soci­ety: having been decla­red bad daug­h­ters of the Party, they were label­led as bad mot­hers, bad wives, bad citi­zens. Perfidiously impu­ted, this soci­al bur­den is ins­cri­bed thro­ugh trans-gene­ra­ti­onal chan­nels, as a levy on daughters.

This is why Andreja Kulunčić bro­ug­ht toget­her a team of fema­le pro­fe­ssi­onals, the­orist Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Dubravka Stijačić, a soci­al the­ra­pist, dan­ce artist Zrinka Užbinec, saxop­ho­nist Jasna Jovićević and voca­list Annette Giesrieg, and stra­te­gi­cal­ly deve­lo­ped a pro­ject to take in the com­plexity of the phe­no­me­non thro­ugh seve­ral lines and sta­ges of work. At times they flow in paral­lel, leaning on vari­ous diac­hro­ni­es and seman­tic layers, addre­ssing dif­fe­rent tar­get audi­en­ces, some­ti­mes meeting and interwe­aving, buil­ding new memo­ri­es. Carefully tho­ug­ht-thro­ugh artis­tic seg­ments defi­ne the mul­ti­pli­city of the field, whi­le sub­tly con­ce­ived tac­tics defi­ne the pro­cess thro­ugh which they are to crys­tal­li­se into three deman­ds: as a com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on on the island, as a reso­lu­ti­on of the inhe­ri­ted tra­uma­tic bur­den in huma­nism and the buil­ding of a bet­ter wor­ld, and the repo­si­ti­oning of women’s nar­ra­ti­ves wit­hin his­to­ri­cal cons­truc­ti­ons. If we were to look at the­se reso­lu­ti­ons in ter­ms of spa­ce, we mig­ht spe­ak of a work in situ and its deterritorialisation.


In situ


… and ahe­ad lay not­hing but des­truc­ti­on (W. G. Sebald The Rings of Saturn)


Deterritorialisation impli­es new con­fi­gu­ra­ti­ons that emer­ge when lines of work are con­nec­ted to other, exter­nal lines. This way, it does not extend only as far as the defi­ned limits of the artis­tic field, but reac­hes in front and behind, and besi­de, befo­re and after and now, cre­ating an uns­te­ady cons­truc­ti­on which the aut­hor has stra­te­gi­cal­ly taken into her cal­cu­la­ti­ons in advance.

The cen­tral sec­ti­on of the piece is the mar­king of the loca­ti­on, the women’s side of Goli Otok and Sveti Grgur, whe­re, deca­des after the disman­tling of the cam­ps, the­re is not­hing to sig­nal the spe­ci­fic his­tory of the pla­ce and the ins­ti­tu­ti­ona­li­sed suf­fe­ring of more than eig­ht hun­dred women. The rema­ins of the sto­ne buil­din­gs visi­ble to tra­ve­lers on board vessels passing by, which the women convic­ts them­sel­ves built with the­ir han­ds and with the aid of rudi­men­tary tools, are the hol­lowed-out sig­ns of an unde­fi­ned erstwhi­le use. However, just as art has always been able to inter­ve­ne in sites of ins­ti­tu­ti­onal rup­tu­res than­ks to its flexi­ble stra­te­gi­es, dis­ci­pli­nary mimi­cri­es, appro­pri­ati­ons of met­hods, tools and tec­h­niqu­es, gene­ra­ting of new situ­ati­ons and uses, and abo­ve all, its ethi­cal demand, here too it found the chan­nels for com­me­mo­ra­ting an excom­mu­ni­ca­ted memory. The com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve key is two­fold. First, Andreja Kulunčić ins­tal­ls a memo­ri­al plaque at the site, with the basic infor­ma­ti­on abo­ut the women’s camp and its orga­ni­sa­ti­on, as an iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of the pla­ces. In addi­ti­on to the plaque, she also adds a QR code which direc­ts visi­tors to the web­si­te10 whe­re they can find addi­ti­onal infor­ma­ti­on on the Goli Archipelago poli­ti­cal camp, as well as on the pro­ject itself. The web­si­te is the home base for rese­ar­ch, an arc­hi­ve of scho­lar­ly and sci­en­ti­fic wri­ting and, most impor­tan­tly, con­ta­ins an arc­hi­ve of for­mer inma­tes’ tes­ti­mo­ni­es. It oug­ht to be stre­ssed that the plaque is not an artis­tic ins­tal­la­ti­on, but part of an artis­tic stra­tegy. As a meta-fun­c­ti­onal object, it is the mate­ri­al medi­ator of infor­ma­ti­on and the medi­um thro­ugh which the repre­ssed his­to­ri­cal nar­ra­ti­ve beco­mes part of the col­lec­ti­ve nar­ra­ti­ve. Likewise, it is a medi­um of the inma­tes’ subjec­ti­va­ti­on, the site of the­ir re-ins­crip­ti­on into the public spa­ce. It is only with the ins­tal­la­ti­on of this plaque, which fol­lows the codes of the conven­ti­onal com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve for­mat, that they acqu­ire the­ir public faces, and the soci­ety gains a pla­ce of cat­har­sis. It is at once an ele­ment of the author’s artis­tic agen­da, repre­sen­ting her open acti­vism. It bears hig­hlig­h­ting that this is the first and sole mar­king of this site, sixty years on.

In paral­lel, toget­her with Renata Jambrešić Kirin and Dubravka Stijačić, Andreja Kulunčić begins to cre­ate an Affective Map of Survival, which will dis­cre­etly and direc­tly mark the spa­ce of the camp. It con­sis­ts of fema­le convic­ts’ tes­ti­mo­ni­es as tra­ces of Goli Otok life that help us recons­truct that everyday. The aut­hors will cre­ate a network of memo­ri­es by defi­ning aro­und ten points in spa­ce that will be mate­ri­al­ly and per­ma­nen­tly mar­ked. For ins­tan­ce, some will be car­ved in sto­ne in the han­dwri­ting of a fema­le heir – a daug­h­ter, gran­d­da­ug­h­ter or neice, infor­mants in this pro­ject – as has alre­ady been done with Vera Winter’s testimony.

This sub­tle inter­ven­ti­on covers and deve­lops a num­ber of layers of meaning and esta­bli­shed rela­ti­ons. It is a seri­es of tra­ces that, by tran­smit­ting inti­ma­te feeling and tho­ug­ht, ins­cri­be affect into spa­ce. The mat­ter at hand is not the­re­fo­re a monu­men­tal repre­sen­ta­ti­on of a hero­ic ges­tu­re or tra­gic yet glo­ri­ous down­fall of a people, but a pro­cess in which a spa­ce acqu­ired its defi­ni­ti­on, and a natu­ral lan­d­s­ca­pe beca­me a men­tal con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on. At the same time, this alig­n­ment with memory des­ta­bi­li­ses it, showing its fra­gi­lity, the rup­tu­res in the ste­ad­fast geograp­hy. By tra­ver­sing betwe­en the points, each visi­tor recre­ates the camp, tur­ning the deCerteauist pla­ce into spa­ce.11 For ins­tan­ce, if they were to come across the wor­ds of Vera Winter, “We car­ri­ed the sto­ne from the sea to the top of the hill. When the heap on the top was lar­ge eno­ugh, we’d car­ry the roc­ks back to the sea”, they can cast a sin­gle glan­ce to grasp the dis­tan­ce, feel the sharp rock under­ne­ath the­ir feet, feel the gus­ts of the Bura wind on the­ir ribs, or the sun bur­ning the­ir pates. Such iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on does not cal­cu­la­te with cat­har­sis, but is an inti­ma­te dialo­gue, a one-on-one meeting, a direct call to remem­be­ring. The ver­bal rema­ins of the con­tes­ted sto­ri­es find the­ir spa­ti­ali­sa­ti­on in an anti-monu­ment, as they were not meant to form a repre­sen­ta­ti­ve ima­ge, and do not make up a who­le, but show up a lack.

There is a cer­ta­in reci­pro­city betwe­en the lan­d­s­ca­pe and the convic­ts. With the­ir everyday labo­ur, the car­rying and moving of sto­nes, they re-pro­du­ced the lan­d­s­ca­pe, whi­le in return, being weake­ned by the labo­ur, dimi­ni­shed, deper­so­na­li­sed. Reduced to silen­ce, to voice­le­ss­ness,12 to a non-subject, they hyper­trop­hi­ed into bodi­es that had to be dis­ci­pli­ned. It is a para­dox, as the­se hyper­bo­li­sed bodi­es were physi­cal­ly weake­ned, radd­led by the scar­city of food and water, unshel­te­red from the ele­ments, physi­cal­ly and psyc­ho­lo­gi­cal­ly hara­ssed, expo­sed to tor­tu­re, disfi­gu­red – hair crop­ped to the scalp omit­ting the odd tuft, in clot­hes that were too lar­ge or too small, and mismat­c­hed sho­es. As in a sort of rever­se car­ni­va­li­sa­ti­on, whe­re tho­se who are expo­sed to moc­kery are not tho­se in power, but whe­re the moc­king of the weak is redo­ubled, they beca­me a sign, an emblem and a locus of a one-sided­ly pro­cla­imed betrayal.13 Through the medi­um of move­ment, voice and sound, the per­for­man­ces by the three artis­ts, the modern dan­cer, the ins­tru­men­ta­list and the voca­list, tran­sfi­gu­re the simul­ta­ne­ous con­den­sa­ti­on and hyper­bo­li­sa­ti­on of the body in the Goli Otok camp. In both solo and col­lec­ti­ve per­for­man­ces in situ, they recre­ate the gru­el­ling daily life of the convic­ts, not in an effort to imi­ta­te or illus­tra­te, to recre­ate suf­fe­ring in full. On the con­trary, this is a rite of passa­ge, a tran­s­la­ti­on of suf­fe­ring into other codes and anot­her time, an attempt of the body to remem­ber. It is a struc­tu­ral inter­ven­ti­on. Using the syn­tax based on impro­vi­sa­ti­on, each wit­hin the­ir own artis­tic idi­om, it tran­sfor­ms, de-loca­tes and reter­ri­to­ri­ali­ses the spa­ti­al sur­ro­un­din­gs, sin­ce spa­ce itself is unfi­ni­shed, but emer­ges in the ben­ding of the move­ments, in the rela­ti­on betwe­en soun­ds and voices, the pre­vi­ous and cur­rent existences.




Memory needs pla­ces and ten­ds toward spa­ti­ali­sa­ti­on.14


The aut­hor dis­plays the video recor­din­gs of the per­for­man­ces in an exhi­bi­ti­on spa­ce, whe­re they deno­te the spa­ce of the island as parts of the exhi­bi­ti­on ins­tal­la­ti­on. This is not a mere tran­s­po­sal or pre­sen­ta­ti­on of the per­for­man­ces from the sites, but the cre­ati­on of a hete­ro­ge­ne­ous pla­ce that cre­ates mul­ti­ple refrac­ti­ons of the con­cre­te spa­ces and time seg­ments. The spa­ce and time of the Goli Otok pri­son, the spa­ce and time of the per­for­man­ces, and the here and now of the audi­en­ce draw into one anot­her, and thro­ugh one anot­her, reflec­ting each other in the­ir own dissi­pa­ti­on. The aut­hor cons­truc­ts the exhi­bi­ti­on as a site of a new ima­gi­na­ti­on, esta­bli­shing it upon vari­ous for­ms of media and the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve pro­ce­ssing of mate­ri­als: video, drawing, docu­men­ta­ti­on, sound… These are for­ms of rela­ti­ons and dif­fe­rent mate­ri­ali­ti­es, the shar­pe­ning and blur­ring of focus, moving betwe­en the reco­un­ting of sto­ri­es, the fra­gi­lity of memo­ri­es, the body as a medi­um or the real body of the tor­men­ted women and so on. She dis­plays her lar­ge for­mat drawin­gs of fema­le figu­res in moti­on in the spa­ce as a deli­be­ra­te dis­trac­ti­on who­se dif­fe­rent spa­ti­ality – its two-dimen­si­ona­lity in rela­ti­on to three-dimen­si­ona­lity, the simul­ta­ne­ity of the depic­ted move­ments in rela­ti­on to the diac­hrony of moti­on – inter­rup­ts the spa­ti­al and tem­po­ral con­ti­nu­ity. In addi­ti­on, the drawin­gs are the mate­ri­ali­sa­ti­on of her per­so­nal rela­ti­on towar­ds the mate­ri­al, drawing by hand, tran­sfer­ring move­ment, the memory of the body.

If we were to view all the­se seg­ments, as Brandon LaBelle ins­truc­ts us,15 as an expan­si­on in the sen­se defi­ned by Jacques Derrida in Grammatology, then we can see them as a cri­ti­cal addi­ti­on. It com­ple­ments the “ori­gi­nal” object, the “ori­gi­nal” acti­vity or phe­no­me­non, with a sort of inter­rup­ti­on, with which it “emp­ti­es the seemin­gly sta­ble pre­sen­ce of what we ima­gi­ne to be com­ple­te, who­le, or unc­han­ge­able”. In LaBelle’s wor­ds, the addi­ti­on “makes the ori­gi­nal ava­ila­ble to sam­pling, appro­pri­ating, com­men­ting”.16 In this con­text, the exhi­bi­ti­on, as well as the work itself, repre­sent a dissol­ved struc­tu­re that par­ti­ci­pa­tes in new/individual/collective cons­truc­ti­ons of memory and thus cons­truc­ts itself in turn. This is the deter­ri­to­ri­ali­sa­ti­on of Deleuze and Guattari.

Exhibiting the work, You Betrayed the Party Just When You Should Have Helped It, also has a cle­ar agen­da in disse­mi­na­ting a topic, which is part of the author’s artis­tic stra­tegy. She has deli­be­ra­tely cho­sen the History Museum as the site of its first dis­play, in order to sym­bo­li­cal­ly, as well as effec­ti­vely, intro­du­ce the missing women’s voice into an ins­ti­tu­ti­on of domi­nant his­tory. Using the cul­tu­ral capi­tal of the ins­ti­tu­ti­ons who­se pri­mary fun­c­ti­on is to exhi­bit, publi­shing in public media, dis­cu­ssi­ons, a round-table and publi­ca­ti­ons are part of a care­ful­ly con­ce­ived public cam­pa­ign, for which the aut­hor first laid the gro­un­dwork in the public spa­ce by anno­un­cing the ins­tal­la­ti­on of the memo­ri­al plaque on public web­si­tes. This is an impor­tant com­po­nent of the enti­re pro­ject, as it wor­ks to intro­du­ce a topic that used to be enti­rely sup­pre­ssed into the public spa­ce and open a dis­cu­ssi­on abo­ut it. Equally, the public lec­tu­res and wor­k­shops by Andreja Kulunčić, Renata Jambrešić Kirin i Dubravka Stijačić – each of which is focu­ssed on a spe­ci­fic audi­en­ce, and which all dis­cuss the soci­al enga­ge­ment in the arts and the com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve form of an anti-monu­ment, the posi­ti­on of women’s nar­ra­ti­ves in repre­ssi­ve poli­ci­es and domi­nant his­to­ri­cal nar­ra­ti­ves, and dealing with the legacy of tra­uma – cham­pi­on the huma­nism, soli­da­rity, and care found in the tes­ti­mo­ni­es of the Goli Otok convic­ts as the essen­ti­al valu­es in over­co­ming evil and main­ta­ining a bet­ter world.

Contemporary soci­al the­ori­es have taug­ht us that repre­ssed memo­ri­es and the­ir lacu­nae play a dis­tin­ct role in esta­bli­shing col­lec­ti­ve his­to­ri­cal ima­gi­na­ri­es. “Working on memory”, wri­tes Bojana Pejić, “depen­ds on class, sex/gender and rela­ti­ons of power, which deter­mi­ne what is remem­be­red (or for­got­ten), who remem­bers and to what end”. “In other wor­ds”, she says, “the work on cons­truc­ting a col­lec­ti­ve memory/amnesia always invol­ves a cer­ta­in poli­tics of memory”.17 Therefore, Andreja Kulunčić embar­ks on a decons­truc­ti­on of an amne­sia in order to open a passa­ge for remem­bran­ce. In so doing, she makes use of a subver­si­ve form of com­me­mo­ra­ti­on – the anti-monu­ment, which does not impo­se a memory, but seeks it in a cons­tan­tly renewing inter­fe­ren­ce of con­tes­ted memo­ri­es and the audi­en­ce visi­ting a pla­ce. An anti-monu­ment thus opens the pro­cess of a decen­tra­li­sed col­lec­ti­ve memory as one of the fil­ters for the accep­tan­ce of the past. In this sen­se, it acti­vely enco­ura­ges dis­cu­ssi­ons abo­ut how we remem­ber, what we remem­ber and what is the role of the past in the futu­re.18 Memory seeks to sal­va­ge the past, in order for the past to ser­ve the pre­sent and the futu­re, accor­ding to Jacques Le Goff. “We must work”, he urges, “so that col­lec­ti­ve memory may be in the ser­vi­ce of libe­ra­ti­on and not the ser­vi­tu­de of men”.19 For this reason, Andreja Kulunčić’s, Renata Jambrešić Kirin’s and Dubravka Stijačić’s work is not merely a cor­rec­ti­on to col­lec­ti­ve memory or a con­tri­bu­ti­on to anti-monu­ment prac­ti­ce, but an acti­ve effort on the tran­s­gre­ssi­on of the good. With it they show that the soli­da­rity, resi­li­en­ce and com­pa­ssi­on we inhe­rit from women’s cul­tu­re of memory are the valu­es that allow it.


Zagreb, December 2020

  1. Les Lieux de memo­rie (1984 – 1993 

  2. Jan Assman, Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, Remembrance, and Political Imagination, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 233 

  3. According to: Shoshana Felman, The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2002. 

  4. Ibid. 

  5. J. Assman, Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, Remembrance, and Political Imagination, p. 44 

  6.  Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Traitors are Always of the Feminine Gender [Izdajice su uvi­jek žen­skog roda], in: Up&Underground, 17 – 18 (2010) p. 232. [Translator’s note: the Croatian lan­gu­age has gen­de­red nouns; „tra­itor“ is coded as femi­ni­ne] 

  7. Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Dom i svi­jet: o žen­skoj kul­tu­ri pam­će­nja [The Home and the World: of the Female Culture of Remembrance], Zagreb, 2008. p. 81 

  8. Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Traitors are Always of the Feminine Gender, 231 – 242, in: Up&Underground, 17 – 18 (2010), p. 237 

  9. Rosa Dragović-Gašpar’s recol­lec­ti­on 

  10. http://www.zene-arhipelag-goli.info/ 

  11. In his The Practice of Everyday Life, the French the­orist Michel de Certeau dis­tin­gu­ishes pla­ce from spa­ce. A pla­ce is a “an ins­tan­ta­ne­ous con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on of posi­ti­ons” and impli­es sta­bi­lity, whi­le “spa­ce is the effect pro­du­ced by the ope­ra­ti­ons that ori­ent it”, that is, a prac­ti­ced pla­ce. Space is rela­ted to pla­ce much like spe­ech is to lan­gu­age. See: Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, 1988, pp. 183 – 185 

  12. One of the wit­ne­sses says: “Someone on the side­li­nes mig­ht say that nobody lived here, or that the resi­dents are mute, or ton­gu­eless”. 

  13. The betrayal itself is too thus mag­ni­fi­ed, as it hap­pe­ned just when the par­ty – the mot­her, the pro­tec­tor, the sis­ter – most needed help. 

  14. J. Assman. Cultural Memory and Early Civilization: Writing, Remembrance, and Political Imagination, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 25 

  15. Brandon LaBelle, Lecture on our sha­red spa­ce, in: Evelina Turković, Slika od zvu­ka: zvuk u vizu­al­noj umjet­nos­ti [Image of Sound: Sound in Visual Art], Zagreb, 2018, p. 55 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Bojana Pejić, Spomenik Zoranu Đinđiću: Kultura seća­nja i poli­ti­ka zabo­ra­va [Monument to Zoran Đinđić: the Culture of Memory and the Policy of Forgetfulness], VREME 866, 9 August 2007 

  18. Todor Kuljić, Antispomenik, pp. 333 – 365, in: Tanatopolitika, Belgrade, 2014 

  19. Jacques Le Goff Pamćenje, u: Kolektivno seća­nje i poli­ti­ke pam­će­nja (ur. Michal Sladeček et al.), Beograd: 2015. Str. 125