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Journey to the Island

Monday, 26 May 2014 09:34 Written by Neli Ruzic    
“I am baffled by the worrying spectacle of
the excess of memory here, the excess of forgetting there, of not
mentioning the influence of commemorations, and of the uses
and abuses of memory and forgetting.”

Paul Ricoeur

Journey to the Island is a research and production project by Marie-Christine Camus and Neli Ruzic on the construction of memory and history, taking as a starting point an event that occurred on the island of Solta, Croatia in 1943. The project comprises testimonials, archive documents, images and sounds, as well as various ramifications and media: video-essays, an artist book, a series of digital prints and installations. It is also an open project involving collaboration with other artists.

The central theme of the project centers around the historical account, and the relativity of history and memory. The status of being a migrant leads one to question and re-interpret historical narrative with a certain distance, and thus explore the construction of identity.

The island is a kind of micro-space caught between the reality of yesterday and the fiction of today, between the different versions of the official story and the private ones.

One of the main objectives of the project was to collect the testimonies of the island’s inhabitants, stressing the relationship between memory as affection coming into contact with historical narrative, the complexity of reality and its historical construction.

Between a staging of memory and the possibility of erasing the traces of the past, we study the marks left by the ideological discourses of the past and how they operate today. We wish to reflect on the co-existence of multiple timelines. the time of silence, of mythification, family stories, political posturing, ideological deception, memories and forgetting.

We propose a re-interpretation of history based on aesthetics, ethics and politics.

The presentation called The Hole / The Midwife focuses on a specific part of the project, and explores elements relating to the only female victim, the midwife Tonka Antunovic, though the female oral heritage, family stories and the metaphorical relationship between the hole, birth and death.

The midwife

Transcription text: When I was born, there was no doctor on the island, so midwives performed this task. They dragged them out at night. They took the midwife during the night, and her siblings at dusk. They said that they threw her down the hole. She resisted fiercely, grabbing the branch of a bush that grows close to the hole. She held on tightly so that they could not drag her away.

They had to eliminate the race. They also raped her, then threw her down. (My mother told me this, but never in front of other people. She and my aunt, just the two of them, whispering).

The myth

They told me that if you throw a stone, it bounces for a long time. People from here believe that holes are so deep that they do not lead anywhere, they do not have a bottom. They often call them Bezdanka or Brezdanka: the abyss with no bottom. Anyone who has leant over the hole and seen the darkness knows what this means. Since prehistory it has been thought that the holes were connected with the underworld, Hades.
Read 911 times Last modified on Monday, 02 June 2014 17:48