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  • An absent present: a personal journey through public commemoration

Mirsky, Ronit, 2018, Thesis, An absent present: a personal journey through public commemoration MPhil thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

I grew up in Israel, in a culture obsessed with memorialisation and perpetuation. As a young state, surrounded by enemy countries, Israel needed to construct a raison d’etre. Mythmaking and heroism became the foundations of an Israeli collective memory: the land needed to be occupied with monuments celebrating those ideals. My personal and social identity was shaped by this collective memory. The memories and experiences that have shaped me as an adult are the subject of this research. I question what was behind those experiences: whether they were controlled, and if so by whom.
This research questions the power of the state to determine how memory should be experienced. A monument, above all, is a transmitter of meaning. Its commissioners, usually the governing authorities, use it to inscribe values into the individuals within a group. But these meanings are dormant and need to be revived. Each encounter with a monument creates a personal narrative that is a fragment of the national master narrative; however, these personal narratives might be controlled by the governing authorities, and have only the illusion of being truly personal. Consequently, the national master narrative helps the group to move in a unified way through space and time. I look into these narratives, trying to decipher what they actually encapsulate and whom they serve.
Throughout this research I disassemble the process of commemoration. By analysing the encounters of visitors, including myself, with places of public memory, I explore the ways in which social and national memory is formed. The key element of this research is the state of being active: in order to fully understand the experience of a visitor, I must be a visitor myself. I return, both physically and metaphorically, and revisit memories as well as the memorial sites at which they were formed. I conduct repeated rituals in these places of memorialisation; by using re-enactment, shared social activity, accidental encounters, the collecting of objects and pencil rubbings, I unpack the experience of the individual in relation to memorial sites.
Combining written and visual practice I reflect on my experiences, narrating them with storytelling, as well as the creation of artifacts, trying to challenge common notions associated with memorials. The process of my research traces the construction of memory, leading neither to an end point nor a specific answer but rather opening up a discussion about the process of memory and memorialisation.

Qualification Name: MPhil
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W140 Printmaking
School or Centre: School of Fine Art
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2018 15:42
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2018 15:42
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3524

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