Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10012
On the occasion of the opening of Memory Trace by Fazal Sheikh, Storefront for Art and Architecture will also present, Reading Images: On Memory and Place, moderated by Fazal Sheikh and exhibition curator Eduardo Cadava, with the participation of Sadia Abbas, Emmet Gowin, Amira Hass, Rashid Khalidi, Rosalind Morris, Sheia Sheikh,and Michael Wood.
It is perhaps because we have not yet fully understood the power and force of memory and its essential relation to forgetfulness and betrayal that there can be no end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war has provided evidence over the course of several decades not simply of the inevitable complicity between victory and defeat, between war and the rhetoric of peace, but also between memory and forgetfulness. These complicities have in a sense even revealed a determination to make war permanent.
In an ongoing peace process that seems to take the form of what Michel Foucault once called “a coded war” (the continuation of war through other means), there seems to be an insistence on certain ways of remembering the past, and of using these remembrances to understand the present and to imagine the future.
At stake in this conflict are questions of territory and the ownership of land, of legacies and inheritances, political and national identities, ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts, discrimination and economic oppression, and violence and retaliations of all kinds. Many of these questions can be viewed through the lens of what Mahmoud Darwish in 1973 called “a struggle between two memories.”
However various its manifestations may be, the question of memory affects every dimension of the conflict. If not for the struggles over what memory can be, or over which memories have more authority or force, there would, in fact, be no conflict. This is not to say that the violence, the injuries, the deaths, the destruction, the discrimination, and oppression that characterize the conflict are only issues of memory, but rather that they would never occur without this “struggle between two memories,” often one that is between more than two memories.