Abstracts

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Jelena Juresa, STILL, 2013, B&W photograph

Abstracts

Paul Antick Three Places I Never Went To When I Was Alive

Shot in September 2015 in Hungary and Greece, Three Places is a Dada-esque documentary-fiction film about one man’s plan to smuggle a Syrian refugee across Europe. The film’s internal dissonance, its textual ‘impurity’, distinguishes it from most mainstream information about the refugee crisis, found in the news media, in particular, and hinges on its simultaneous invocation of signs of ‘the real’, ‘the un-real’, ‘the absurd’, ‘the rough and ready’, ‘the sublime’, and ‘the boring’, each of which to varying degrees echo aspects of the experiences of many participants in the ‘drama’ currently being played out in Europe, on beaches, in internment camps, in city centres, and on computer screens; a drama in which the provision of safe passage and asylum to refugees is increasingly accompanied by demands for the collective exhibition of their cultural, racial, religious, moral, and economic ‘purity’, or ‘innocence’.

Three Places is a political history film that refers to a discrete historical event, not from the point of view of one who looks back, but from a position of spatio-temporal contemporaneity, from a position of looking at, in the ‘here and now’ – like an ‘on-scene’ news broadcast. Although unlike the news, the world of the film is often confusing, confused, comedic, ‘amateurish’, chaotic; and as such, profoundly different from the slickly manufactured or ‘packaged’, and immediately intelligible world found in news, which routinely reports on chaos and disorder, but which for ideological reasons can never afford to be chaotic.

The qualified chaos and occasional opacity of Three Places represents a failed attempt to bridge one of the affective gaps between it and the object of its enquiry: the refugee crisis, the nature of which, as both experience and representation, is, among other things, very often chaotic, uncertain, nonsensical, tedious, opaque, and exhilarating.

 

Helen Bendon Spatialising history.

Alexandra Palace and Park – or Ally Pally to those who know it – is a public site of multiple narratives. From music hall to live broadcasting, from racecourse to refugee camp, from trade shows to biodiversity, from internment camp to ice-rink, the use of Ally Pally has expanded and deviated from the founding vision in 1873 as the People’s Palace. As part of it’s current regeneration the Ally Pally is making some of those rich histories accessible to the public. One such history is explored in the collection Ally Pally Prison Camp, (Overstep Books, 2011) by poet Maggie Butt. Ally Pally Prison Camp tells the little-known story of Alexandra Palace as an internment camp for 3,000 German, Austrian and Hungarian civilian internees from 1915 to 1919. The book interweaves prisoner’s words from letters and memoirs, with photographs, paintings by internee George Kenner with poems by Maggie Butt.  Based on this publication, Bendon produced an app Time Stands Still (2015) a locative audio experience for visitors to Alexandra Park.

Time Stands Still is characterised by fragments of narrative, is multi-vocal, and employs different modes of address and forms of delivery. This particular act of (hi)storytelling pursues histories in performative ways.

This presentation details a practice-based exploration of spatialising history as a way of decentering authorial voices of history into participatory, dynamic experiences. History as a discipline is intrinsically tied to the temporal, but can new possibilities open up when spatialising history through creative means?

The process of spatialising history, as explored in the Time Stands Still (2015), is an iterative one working between drawing, mapping and walking and listening. The placing of past ‘traces’ in physical space explicitly demands that you consider your role as ‘historian’ but it also demands that the end-user participates in the process.

 

Martin L. Davies History: the technocratic management of an artificial world.

What does history do? How does it function? What does history-focussed behaviour – as a widespread social practice – signify? Nothing natural: a human artifice, a means of making human activity make sense. The dominant form of social self-representation in the neo-liberal economic system, it is this system in ideal form. The disciplined studiousness that produces it, informing social behaviour by setting its precedents and norms, operates as a means of mass social persuasion.

Liberalism in general sees the world of human culture as artificial, maintained by a technocracy (administrators, managers, experts, technicians, and – not least – academics) and sustained by progress, by their belief in progress. History is uniquely its management-technology, the administrative function that produces its comprehensive meaning. However, just as progress, evidently entropic, loses momentum, so its comprehensive sense proves illusory. Automatically careering on, imposing its disciplinary authority, history only exposes its own redundancy. That is the world’s apprehensive situation now.

Jean Debney The ‘Presented(ed)’-ness of the Before Now

In this moment that we call ‘now’, we make constructions and transactions, that, after this moment, become the ‘before now’.   As the ‘before now’ passes back out of memory, the scant archive that is saved by those with a selective interest, becomes mythologised and re-told as a creative narrative by another person.   This practice we name as ‘history’, and the creative re-teller we name as a ‘historian’.

I will place before you a ‘present’ situation in this world of social media – where interactive exchange is taking place constantly in various forums on the Internet – that the ‘present(ed)-ness’ of ‘self and event’, which is constructed, and consequently re-constructed by others, is only a ‘present’, a ‘now,’ and that the ‘new historian’ is an algorithm, which selects that to be ‘re-told’ as a creative narrative at some future date; thus, this mythology of ‘self – and – present – happening’ as a fictional, future narrative, perpetuates.

Consequently, because this new technology is; global, out of temporality, across cultural and social borders, the ‘before now’ that will be ‘re-created’ at some future moment, will be a more complete ‘story of self and event’ due to the amassed digital archives, however, this is still only a selective ‘construct’ as the ‘before now’ is never recoverable.

What will be the shape/form of the future constructs re-told by the ‘historian’?   Can these notions of cultural or social or political history remain unchallenged, when borders/gate-keeping are no longer in existence?   Does temporality still apply when the Internet interacts across all time-zones at any given moment?   Will this practise of ‘creative story-telling’ become a democratic act by those who are the ‘actors’ of the present?’   Will the ‘before now’ have greater transparency, or be evermore open to manipulation?   What or who will make the decisions as to which traces are to remain for future revelation and re-telling?   Will the practice of ‘history’ perpetuate and exist in a commanding position to inform, as the current information transaction and construction predominates in the digital world?   In what form may these stories be re-told at a future point?

I would like to invite you to my Facebook page that has been ‘constructed’ specifically for this symposium presentation.   I have chosen images, music and quotations that I believe are accessible and open to a wide audience and are common in the understanding as interpretations/representations of the ‘before now’.   I encourage those of you that feel inclined to be involved, to make commentary and post your own contributions in the dialogue of the ‘Presented (ed) ness’ of the Before Now:

https://www.facebook.com/thebeforenow2015/

“Now it precisely this kind of context control that a generalized computerization of society may bring.   The performativity of utterance, be denotative or prescriptive, increases proportionally to the amount of information about its referent one has at one’s disposal.   Thus the growth of power, and it’s self-legitimation, are now taking the route of data storage and accessibility, and the operativity of the information.” (Lyotard, 1984).

Gisele Iecker de Almeida Where to now? The future in the present (with a stopover in the past)

In the early 21st century, it is plain to see that the arrow of time is not unidirectional as once thought, but rather travels in all directions. Our present reading of it affects the past and our image of what the future may hold. As such, the future is not merely understood as the result of past and present, but rather as a reservoir of expectations. The complex temporality we experience today finds fertile ground for reflection in the attempts to work through the mass atrocities perpetrated during the 20th century. In this paper, the philosophy of history underlying the Brazilian state’s attempts to work through its dictatorial past will be presented as a case study of the complex temporality of the now. A case will be made that a stopover in the past can sometimes be a powerful tool to affect the future.

 

Vicky Iglikowski – Putting Files on Film

 How is it possible to translate paper documents into public engagement? Fascinating gems lie in even the most mundane looking items, but how can public history be best utilised to tease these out?

This paper will showcase several 4 minute films created during a public film making competition inspired by the diversity of The National Archives collections. The expressive range spans from Matylda Wierietielny’s film ‘Shellshock’ which depicted the experience of a female nurse in the First World War through interpretative dance to the visual narrative of Angus Campbell Golding’s piece ‘A West Indian in England’ from 1949. These films snapshot discrete ways of making public histories possible.

This paper will aim to demonstrate how digital mediums can mediate between the past and present in innovative ways to bring ‘hidden’ histories to new audiences.

Joe Iosbaker Putting Israel on Trial in a U.S. Court: The Case of Rasmea Odeh

 Since October 2013, Rasmea Odeh has been the target of persecution by the U.S. government in perhaps the most important political trial in a generation.

Rasmea is a leading member of Chicago’s Palestinian community where she is an activist organizing Arab women in the immigrant community. She was arrested by the Department of Homeland Security and charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, an allegation based on answers she gave on a 20 year old immigration application.

The government claims that Rasmea failed to disclose that she was convicted by the Israelis of participating in bombings in 1969. This conviction in a military court was the result of a false confession made after she was viciously tortured and raped by Israeli military authorities. The tortured confession and conviction from an illegal military court were accepted by Judge Gershwin Drain in the U.S. District Court in Detroit in October 2014. She was convicted, sentenced to 18 months in prison and then deportation.

On February 25, 2016, a federal appeals court ruled against Judge Drain. Drain had denied Rasmea to present to the jury the testimony of a clinical psychologist that the allegedly false answers on the immigration forms were the result of torture induced, chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An evidentiary hearing has been ordered, and her supporters hope she will receive a new trial as a result.

This case hinges on the story of the Palestinian people, and 70 years of occupation. A new proceeding will see Israel on trial. Her supporters believe the jury will recognize that the only crimes in this case are Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people and the U.S. government’s complicity.

 

Jelena Juresa Moving Image and Memory: Tackling Identity Questions through Music

The focus of Jelena Juresa’s presentation is on the collision of past and present, personal and collective, image and narrative in artistic practice and in communication with the spectator. At the core of the talk will be Juresa’s multimedia installation STILL in which music is used as a distinctive narrative apparatus for tackling identity questions.

Jim Kosem Reading, writing, design, life and history

In my session, I will begin by showing some key design work and explaining my work as an interaction designer, product manager, researcher and producer. I will show this in the context of past educational and public sector work as well. After presenting my work I will then show my The Gates of Vienna, my thoughts on designing reading and how the Bastion platform has developed out of that and how it would be well suited to giving kids a new way to read and understand history.

 

Bernard Regan and Kiri Tunks Beyond the Wall

Over a period of 35 years the National Union of Teachers (in England and Wales) has had links with teachers in the occupied Palestinian Territory through their union the General Union of Palestinian Teachers.  During this time they have been engaged in a number of initiatives to support educational projects especially on the West Bank such as contributing to a kindergarten in Balata Refugee Camp.  In the last two years the union’s engagement has taken the form of sending a series of delegations to meet with teachers and pupils, visit schools and listen to a variety of  Palestinian voices about the situation that they face as a result of the occupation.   Whilst meeting with representatives of the Israeli Teachers Union, who are largely supportive of the Israeli government, they have also met with Israeli critics of the Tel Aviv government who are seeking to address the injustices faced by the Palestinian people.
These delegations have also met with students, teachers and members of the Palestinian community inside Israel, such as the Bedouins, who constitute 20% of the population of the country. An important conclusion of this process was the decision to cooperate with an educational charity, EduKid, to embark on making a series of films in which Palestinian children spoke for themselves about their experiences both inside the West Bank and in Israel itself.  This has resulted in the production of three films to date and the intention is to make more.
These short films for use in the classroom have been complimented by the production of teaching materials to go alongside them raising issues of more general concern about the well being of children.  The films and accompanying teaching material are based on the principles of the United Nations Rights of the Child being a key point of reference for reflecting on the well being of all children.
This session will look at how the material came to be put together, the ideas behind the initiative and some of the challenges facing teachers dealing with an issue that is viewed by some as controversial.  In this respect the whole debate around the UK Government’s Prevent Agenda is a factor that is influencing how matters of controversy are dealt with in schools.

 

Amy Roberts Interference Archive

Interference Archive (IA) is a grassroots archive and social center in Brooklyn, NY which explores the relationship between cultural production and social movements. We consider IA to be an “archive from below”, which exists outside of traditional institutions and interferes with dominant “official” historical narratives through our collection content, organizational structure, and archival practices. Interference Archive is a collectively-run and volunteer-operated space where we maintain an open stacks archival collection and study center and seek to build relationships with activists on the ground by organizing public exhibitions, talks, screenings, classes, and workshops.