«Take 16 minutes to learn something about Bolivian history. Or maybe not. Claudia Joskowicz’s two new video works, shown at Thierry Goldberg Projects, depict historical moments dramatically poised on the brink of a violent eruption. At first glance, the actors we see appear frozen even though they’re alive, as if God (or the artist) has buggered off, time has stopped, and the drama can’t or won’t conclude naturally. In Vallegrande, 1967, we slowly approach a dilapidated shed in a rural setting. A few curious locals have gathered to gawk at a dead body lying inside. Nude and supine, the dead man is watched over by soldiers and an eager photographer, who has climbed on the makeshift bier in order to get a better picture. In Round and Round and Consumed by Fire we are again in a rural village of mud bricks and shingled roofs. Two light-skinned men bearing pistols stand in front of a façade. They stand guard, perfectly still, awaiting the arrival of a band of soldiers who appear in the distance.»
(…) Every year, at the genocide-commemoration ceremonies during mourning week, scores of Rwandans erupt in this way, unstrung by grief, convulsed and thrashing when anyone comes near to soothe or subdue them, including, at the stadium, yellow-vested trauma teams who carry them out, bucking and still screaming. You can expect it, but you can’t protect against it. All around the stadium, all around the city, all around the country hung misty-gray banners displaying the word kwibuka—“remember.” The lacerating voices in the stadium make the banners seem almost cruel. Is it really healing to keep reopening a wound? (…)
In Against Remembrance, David Rieff provocatively argues that the business of remembrance, particularly of the great tragedies of the past, are policitised events of highly selective memory. Rather than ending injustices, as we expect it to, collective memory in so many cases dooms us to an endless cycle of vengeance. Humanity, he says, simply cannot cope with the true ambivalence of historical events. And if we remember only partially, how can our memories serve us, or our society, as well as we hope?