Past Event

Celebrating Recent Work by Andreas Huyssen

February 15, 2023
6:15 PM - 8:15 PM
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Deutsches Haus at Columbia (420 West 116th Street)

Memory Art in the Contemporary World: Confronting Violence in the Global South
by Andreas Huyssen

Memory Art in the Contemporary World deals with the ever-expanding field of transnational memory art, which has emerged from a political need to come to terms with traumatic historical pasts, from the Holocaust to apartheid, colonialism, state terror, and civil war. The book focuses on the work of several contemporary artists from beyond the Northern Transatlantic, including William Kentridge, Vivan Sundaram, Doris Salcedo, Nalini Malani and Guillermo Kuitca, all of whom reflect on historical situations specific to their own countries but in work which has been shown to have a transnational reach. Andreas Huyssen considers their dual investment in memories of state violence and memories of modernism as central to the affective power of their work.

This thought-provoking and highly relevant book reflects on the various forms and critical potential of memory art in a contemporary world which both obsesses about the past, in the building of monuments and museums and an emphasis on retro and nostalgia in popular culture, and simultaneously fosters historical amnesia in increasingly flattened notions of temporality encouraged by the internet and social media.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

About the Author

Andreas Huyssen is the Villard Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he served as founding director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society. He is also a founding editor of New German Critique (1974-). His many publications include After the Great Divide (1986), Present Pasts (2003), William Kentridge, Nalini Malani: The Shadowplay as Medium of Memory (2013) and Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (2015). He still pursues his long-standing interest in the politics of memory, now in relation to human rights discourse, and he works on a book on contemporary visual artists from beyond the Northern Transatlantic and their dual investment in memories of state violence and memories of modernism.

About the Speakers

Emily Apter is a Professor of Comparative Literature and French at New York University. Her published works include The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature and Continental Drift: From National Characters to Subjects and Unexceptional Politics On Obstruction, Impasse, and the Impolitic. Her areas of research are translation theory, language philosophy, political theory, critical theory, continental philosophy, history and theory of comparative literature, psychoanalysis, and political fiction.

Claudia Breger is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the Department Chair. Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture, with emphases on film and theater; literary, media, and cultural theory; and the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race.

Noam M. Elcott writes, teaches, and advises students in the history of modern art and media at Columbia University, with an emphasis on early 20th-century art, photography, and film. His research and teaching combine close visual analysis with media archaeology and critical theory. He also writes and teaches on contemporary art. Elcott is the author of Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media (University of Chicago Press), and is currently at work on two book projects.

Oliver Simons is the Director of Graduate German Studies and a Professor of Germanic Languages at Columbia University. He is the author of Raumgeschichten: Topographien der Moderne in Philosophie, Wissenschaft und Literatur and Literaturtheorien zur Einführung and the coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt. His teaching and research interests focus on literature and science, post-colonial studies, the "end" around 1800, and literary theories.

Please note: This event is organized by The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages and the Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The talk is free and open to the public. Registration is required. 

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