Touching Texture, Weaving Traumatic Memory, Art and Death: Thinking Research into Teaching

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The preface to James E. Young (Young, 1993) begins with an account of writing in Berlin at the point of the fall of the Berlin Wall; this is writing that conveys an immediacy - it begins with ‘As I write’. What is given to the reader in the first sentence is a description of ‘being here’, a description of birdsong that can be heard across the city. This is pivotal; for what is addressed within the preface is a journeying, the visits to, and contemplation of, Holocaust monument and memoria. In this text, past and present are brought together outside of a binary, linear idea of history. Rather, what is conveyed is a sensitive attendance to memoria, as offering sites (both physical and psychic) through which to construct memories and consider histories, in response to utter devastation. What is it to contemplate, and try to give response to experience beyond understanding? This is the start of a weaving, an enmeshing of space, place and history. In placing ‘As I write’ in conjunction with memory, what becomes apparent is a condensation. The term that Young uses to convey the unfathomable complexity of traumatic event and the will towards representation through memoria, is ‘the texture of memory’. With the construct of ‘textured memory’ as a frame, this paper begins with the consideration of research into the structure of traumatic memory via an artistic practice informed by psychoanalysis. It reflects upon artistic practice, theoretical framing, and how a complex practice may seek, and possibly find other registers within the context of teaching. It is to texture and to weave threads together in a reflection upon artistic practice, research and teaching. Specific reference will be made to teaching about arts practices on the MSc Death and Society, University of Bath, UK.


Keywords: Research, Teaching, Memory, Art, Trauma, Death
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Jane Calow

Artist and Lecturer, Centre for Death and Society (CDAS)
Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath

Bath, UK

Jane Calow is an artist working with the psychoanalytical structure of trauma. Performed nationally and internationally, her most recent artwork Traject explored the idea of a ‘moveable site’, highlighting themes of physical and psychic spatialisation. In 2002 she directed the international interdisciplinary conference ‘Public Representation and Private Mourning: Commemoration and Memorial’. She is currently working on an artwork developed from Traject entitled Mantle. She has recently published as guest editor (Spring 2007), the 12th edition of the Routledge journal Mortality, entitled Memoria, Memory, and Commemoration. She lectures at the University of Bath on the MsC in Death and Society UK.

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