PROJECTS

THE HOLE  (2008-2011)

Marie-Christine Camus / Neli Ruzic

Project site: http://sites.google.com/site/viajealaisla/

 

The Hole is a project of research and artistic production made in collaboration with Croatian artist Neli Ruzic about the politics of memory and oblivion as well as the relationship between history and place. The starting point is an actual event that took place at the end of World War II in the Croatian island of Solta, which was occupied by the Italians: a group of partisans executed residents of the island by throwing them into the Rudine Hole, a 90 meter deep pit located in the center of the island. The bodies of the victims were never found.

 

Both the exact reasons for the executions and the way in which they were carried out have not been fully clarified. In a region traversed by many political regimes and changes, ideologies mark areas of silence and shadow and that is where the history of Rudine Pit is inscribed: at the junction of Tito's Yugoslavia and its dissolution; between socialism and capitalism; between memory and oblivion. Even though history becomes visible in the post-communist, it remains silent between evasive silences and others imposed by fear. With a deconstructive intention, research and production resulted in a series of processes and political-ethical stances as well as aesthetic decisions to produce an artistic testimony.

 

 The collaboration with Neli Ruzic started as a dialogue based on shared circumstances and common interests. The estrangement from our home countries allowed us to question the established memory, what’s inherited and influenced by the media and to make visible what is assumed. This project was created in collaboration from this perspective of estrangement and post remembrance, in other words, narratives inherited by the generations who did not experience warfare.

 

 The project was carried out between 2008 and 2011, a period in which it was developed through the display of several pieces in different places: a series of large format photographs, an artist's book (Neli Ruzic), a display case with photographs, a linear video and a multi-channel video installation consisting of a triptych and The downward.

 

Some other pieces were conceived to complement the project: a wall with light boxes comprised of archive photos, a projection of the memorial’s blueprints and a voice reading a text describing the construction of the memorial in technical terms .The latter pieces have not been exhibited.

Curatorial Text. Andrea Torreblanca. The Secret of the Island.

Interview. Journey to the Island

The Hole, Alternative Space, National Arts Centre, Mexico City. Curated by Andrea Torreblanca (2011)

Curatorial Text by  Andrea Torreblanca, Abismo sin fondo.

 

The Hole (the triptych)

 

The three projections that constitute the triptych articulate different perspectives on the event: the personal stories of the midwife’s death, the only woman among the six victims of Rudine Pit; the mythical stories that inhabit the imaginary; the silence that ties past and present.

 

The Hole (The downward)

 

A fourth projection in counterpoint has a different visual treatment: we’re talking about the record of a camera that descends down the pit. The haphazard and hilly images caused by the uncontrolled movement of the device refer to the ineffable aspect of the pit.

IMMERSION

Found objects, reconstructed memory (2012-2015)

 

 

“here is a secret agreement between past generations

 and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth.

 Like every generation that preceded us, we have been

endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which

the past has a claim.That claim cannot be settled cheaply.

 Historical materialists are aware of that.”

Walter Benjamin

 

 

In his brief text Excavation and memory, Walter Benjamin relates the work of those who want to know their past with the archaeologist who excavates the layers of the soil in order to extract remnants that tell us about history. He insists on the fact that it’s a careful and laborious process and that the researcher must “return again and again to the same matter, stirring and spreading just as one does with the soil”. In this regard the Immersion project: found objects, reconstructed memory is a sort of archaeological process intended to cut across the layers of history in search of discoveries that bring us closer to the past. According to Benjamin, “Genuine memory must therefore yield an image of the person who remembers, in the same way a good archaeological report not only informs us about the strata from which its findings originate, but also gives an account of the strata which first had to be broken through”.

 

Since I belong to a generation that was born shortly after the end of World War II, I inherited a series of stories both familiar and historical that have been present throughout my life. This legacy was the starting point for carrying out a series of pieces that comprise the Immersion project: Found objects, reconstructed memory. I tried to venture through the layers of history from different perspectives and leave fragments of that process. Walter Benjamin says:

 

The ‘matter itself’ is no more than the layers which yield everything long  sought for: images that separated from all earlier associations, reside as gems in the sober chambers of our later understanding– like broken torsos in a collector’s gallery.

1860-2010 (2013)

Vinyl on wall (1.20m x 2.40 m)

Graphical representation of the millions of deaths caused by armed conflicts in the world between 1860 and 2010 made on vinyl cut from a graph found and taken from French magazine Manière de voir. Le Monde Diplomatique nº126. Décembre 2012 - janvier 2013.

L'armée dans tous ses états.

Contemporary art is no stranger to these processes, new work lines and artistic projects multiply in current production to question the history and memory, particularly the inherited memory, the transmission and representation of history as well as the violence of war. It is in this context that the Immersion: Found objects, reconstructed memory production project is placed. Which was preceded by a long process of research focused on the World War II period and led to the completion of a series of pieces that explore the possibilities of accessing the past, inquiring the development of an inherited memory and questioning the ways of transmission, interpretation and representation of history.

 

To deal with the vastness of the information, the first phase of the project was conducted in the following way: a search process, gathering of objects, images, data and fragments that were the starting point for the set-up of what could be called a collection, compilation or personal archive, a tiny fraction of this great archive that represents the unlimited mass of information, data, documents, representations or cultural memory that we can relate to a historical theme such as world War II.

 

All the pieces were made from materials found and appropriated. Part of the materials are documents (official records, photographs, film archive) that constitute footprints or evidence of this past. Other materials, created after the war, such as maps, graphs, films and current digital materials contrast with the above.

 

The project is conceived as a sort of itinerary that aims to draw its own path, gather scattered fragments between complex landscapes of history and inherited memories as well as develop a personal mapping from an archaeological excavation in order to find traces of this historical period. It is constructed, through the series of pieces, the questioning about the different interpretations of a real event and the way in which memory is conformed and history is permanently reconstructed.

 

Glances (2013)

Single-channel video projection on loop (B / W, silent)

Fragment Length 2:04

Deportees walking. Fragment of World War II found footage.

 

Walk in the woods (2013)

Single-channel video projection on loop (color, silent)

Fragment Length 1:21

Montage made from fragments of family materials from the 50s shot by Gilbert Camus (uncle of the author) in 8mm film as well as fragments from the fiction format film Slaughter. Come and Gaze (Elem Klimov, USSR, 1985) an emblematic film about the extermination of civilians by the Nazis in Belarus.

 

A photo (2014)

Video projection of two channels on loop (color, silent)

Fragment Length 2:04

Inquiry about the uses of photography. Reissue in 2 channels of a sequence from Slaughter. Come and Gaze (Elem Klimov, USSR, 1985) an emblematic film about the extermination of civilians by the Nazis in Belarus.

 

Silent Landscape (2014)

Video projection of two channels on loop, on two screens facing each other. (Color, sound)

Fragment Length 8:11

The landscape as a silent witness of the war.

 Montage made from fragments of the film La Bataille des Ardennes (Ken Annaken, United States, 1965) and The Bridge at Remagen (George Segal, United States, 1969) contrasting a current landscape.

 

The Bridge (2014)

Two channel video projection on loop. (B / W, silent)

Fragment Length 5:39

Cinematic representation of a historical event where fiction and non-fiction blur together.

Montage made from fragments of a fiction film (The Bridge at Remagen, George Segal, United States, 1965) and a documentary of the same period. The Big Picture (Department of Defense, United States, 1965) about the same historical event of World War II (The Battle of Remagen Bridge in 1944 in Germany).

 

La Campagne d'Italie (2014)

Series of 5 digital images, 28cm x 52cm. Digital printing on cotton paper.

The same landscape today and during World War II. Analog and digital imaging.

Some images derive from photographic reproductions of the book Le 3ème Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens pendant La Campagne d´Italie (Janvier-Août 1944) (Les Éditions de la Nouvelle France, Paris, 1945) and others are recent photographs found on Internet and taken by unknown authors.

 

Table with documents and audio recordings

Facsimiles of documents from the war period derived from the artist’s personal archive displayed on a table with benches for its viewing as well as audio playback of recordings of family testimonies.