Commemorating Painful Pasts through Performative Practices

The 19th and the beginning of the 20th century have left a dark legacy behind: world wars, genocides, civil wars, dictatorships and terrorist attacks with millions of people tortured, persecuted, displaced, dead, or disappeared without a trace. What do we later born generations do with these painful pasts? How can we hold on believing in humanity in the face of these events? Artists, museum curators and educators are increasingly interested in devising more effective strategies of remembering painful pasts. To this end, they invite audiences to actively engage in remembering, working through and reflecting critically upon these historical events, and what they mean to contemporary societies. This project explores whether and how performative practices enable later born generations to deal with the legacies of trauma, to initiate reconciliation and to attempt forgiveness. The term ‘performative’ best explains the active engagement that these projects demand from audiences. The term is used to describe artistic and educational projects which promote a high degree of participation, through hands – on activities and other audience engagement strategies. This project investigates if these practices are useful to strengthen social activism as well as moral and civic responsibility, thereby contributing to more just and peaceful societies.

Project leader(s):
  • Tanja Schult (Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University, Sweden)

Leave a Reply