Trauma, Memory and Silenced History is a reflection on my progress as a practising visual artist during this focused time of my doctoral studies, and it documents how my art and research have become intricately woven together. The principal aim of my doctoral research is to bring key components of my creative and theoretical inquiries together into a single
body of work.
The project explores the mediation of personal and collective memory and investigates the concept of post-memory and the mediation of the past through familial and personal traumatic events in a series of photographs, films and large-scale installations. My personal traumas and displacement, for political reasons, were the hidden forces behind most of the themes evoked in this work. My personal interest in and experience of trauma have motivated me to use my art practice to raise awareness of the relevance of these issues today.
In researching my family history and the legacies of displacement and exile, my work has explored ideas of trauma, loss and memory: evocations transmitted across generations. These themes, each one evolving from the others, evoke a journey from the surface to the depths, from thoughts to feelings.
I describe how ideas are generated from collecting objects that belonged to my family, creating a material form of memory, and how the meanings of those materials are then transformed and elaborated by the creative process and the mode of presentation.
In parallel, I have uncovered my familial and personal experience of traumatic events, addressed the falsification of collective memory by political and State powers and explored a silenced history. In my practice I refer to the idea that collective memory is very often a tool of manipulation, through the reconstruction of history by political elites, that affects and resonates with the present.
In the theoretical research, the key analytic approaches I deploy are located within the framework of trauma, memory, post-memory and archives studies and theories of place and landscape. By researching theorists such as Marianne Hirsch, Jean Baudrillard, Annette Kuhn, Sergei Eisenstein, Daniel Miller, Anna Tobiassen, Michael Foucault and Susan M. Piers I have been allowed to develop my artistic practice further, adding substance to my work and making it more engaging. Key artists and filmmakers, such as Zarina Bhimji, Rosy Martin, Christian Boltanski, Zlatko Cosic, Arthur Lipsett, Barbara Meter and Andrey Tarkovsky, have been a source of inspiration, encouraging me to explore my work and to deploy strategies such as metaphor and symbolism and the use of different methodologies – such as the long takes, superimposition techniques and a combination of still photographs and videos, sound and silence.