The Archives of Oblivion, about Propensity - PhMuseum

The Archives of Oblivion, about Propensity

Cecilia Hurtado

2020 - Ongoing

We often create a new version of our memories to fit the opinions and needs of the moment. Propensity refers to distorting influences of our current knowledge, feelings and ideas about new experiences or recent memories of them. There are five main classes of propensity, for this series I will take as an example the stereotypical propensities that reveal how generic memories shape the interpretation of the world, even when we are not aware of their existence or influence. In the field of memory, revisionist tendencies have been linked to this type of propensity. Thus, I will take historical revisionism as an example as a reinterpretation of the masculine seen from a critical perspective of identity and power roles.

"A privilege for the victors and a sacrilege for the defeated"

The creative process focused on researching and collecting information and photographs about destroying, altering, or removing monuments, symbols, and statues that represent important men. History has countless examples of this type of action, it could be said that practically the history of humanity can also be told through the destruction of icons, constructions and beliefs.

Symbolic colonization and removal as a historical fact in itself, could allow me to reflect on power roles and at the same time question them. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the vast majority of these monuments represent males.

In the context of a purely aesthetic conception of art, aggression appears as irrational, meaningless, irrelevant, and certainly threatening. The Byzantine and Protestant attacks can be explained by the religious functions that the images performed then, just as the "vandalism" in the French Revolution can find its source - if not its justification - in politics.

Monuments are a favorite target for their ideological function and public accessibility, and because statues can be deformed and thus transformed into monuments of their own degradation. The literal fall of a monument seems to be predestined to symbolize the metaphorical fall of the regime that ordered its erection. The fall of images seems to speak of a revenge of a powerless majority on a powerful minority, of the living over the petrified. A process that all viewers can only sympathize with. The fact that faces are often mistreated as if they belonged to living people, evokes aggressions ranging from the Executio in Effigie of low antiquity to the martyrdom of statues of saints during the reform.

"Executio in effigie"

From the news of the statue of Christopher Columbus beheaded in Boston, it led me to collect images of statues that suffered the same fate. History books, archives on the Internet, were the sources to work on this series in times of pandemic. The symbolic charge that decapitation contains seems very powerful to me, I imagine a visual encyclopedia of these headless characters, and where the story of those who cut off their heads as victors can finally be told. With this idea, I made an accordion book with a selection of several decapitated statues throughout history, which when opened could be a proposal for a sculptural walk of men without heads.

"Disfigured"

One of the things that captivates and surprises me the most about contemporary German culture is its position with respect to historical memory, its acquired responsibility and how much of the history of the 20th century can be understood by walking and carefully observing the city. When I arrived in Berlin in September, my first intention was to investigate the removal of the Lenin monument in the eighties, and I knew then that the head was in a museum dedicated to the history of the city. But not only that, in the Zitadelle Museum, which is an old fortress, there are several historical collections, it is an archive museum itself. But, the most exciting thing was knowing that not only did they have Lenin's head permanently exposed, but also an important collection of statues that have been removed and violated throughout the history of this city, my heart could not beat stronger! ! A room full of archival objects, effigies without a public pedestal, now recognized for their fall. This series consists of 24 photographs of faces with broken or deformed noses that I intervened with drawings made by hand with ink and a mounting sketch for exhibition.

"Banished"

From the racial protests in the United States that also led to the removal of monuments of characters from the history of that country, it led me to investigate the different statues that have happened throughout history and the world. I concentrated on photographs published in electronic media, where the statue appears hanging, sometimes it seems hanged, other times it is mutilated, but finally it is there, vulnerable and off its pedestal. In this process one of the concerns was how to represent the monumentality and the fall at the same time. In this series I find formal possibilities such as installations and projections using these images, I am interested in playing with perception, about the suspended object and the fall of a regime.

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