"...striking on stone clocks" (Mandelstam)

Twitchin, Mischa. 2022. '"...striking on stone clocks" (Mandelstam)'. In: Why Remember? Peace, Conflict and Culture Conference. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-8 July 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

With the example of a recent sculpture by Mladen Miljanovic, Death Capital (2022), my presentation will reflect on relations between lithic and digital in the culture of remembrance – exploring oscillations between noun and verb in the work of memory, as also between material and metaphor in its manifold media. Temporal understanding of what it means to remember is interwoven here with questions of inscription and embodiment, which may be conceptual as much as physical. Furthermore, an event, a place, or a name, in becoming retroactively memorable, engages with the necropolitics of public space and a fraught legacy of the ‘heroic’ which haunts memorials to victims or perpetrators within national (and especially nationalist) mythography. A dominant theme in memorial politics is, of course, the possibility that past violence be remembered in order to forestall (or even to exorcise) future violence, as if such memory could undo the possibility of its repetition. This familiar answer to the conference’s title question offers a promise that seems predicated, however, on wilfully forgetting the conditions of possibility of such violence in the first place. The enduring intelligibility of a memorial form is manifested, after all, not only in its being an object or site for commemorative rituals, but also for vandalism and finally neglect or abandonment. Echoing the work of Bernard Stiegler (drawing on his generous participation in a film of mine, Loving Memory), I wish to explore a potential of art practices in the creation of memorial forms that is typically occluded by commissions made for public spaces. This potential attests (in Ariella Azoulay’s terms) to a civic resistance to complicity in the violence perpetrated in the name of the very public whose relation to such space – and its victims – is implicitly reproduced by commemoration, as if the future bestowed an inevitability on the past. Where Zygmunt Bauman speaks here of ‘coercion’, with respect to the state (and the rights of citizenship), we can surely speak of memory also as being at stake in political struggles: ‘The right to draw (and to redraw at will, if needed) the line between legitimate and illegitimate, permitted and prohibited, legal and criminal, tolerated and intolerable coercion is the principal stake in power struggles.’ In contrast to the ‘striking’ question of time in the Romantic tradition of the philosopher poet (as reconceived, for example, by Osip Mandelstam’s evocation of a ‘real avalanche’), the memorial culture of stone might be rethought, then, in terms of a future yet to be engraved in the past, rather than the reverse.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


7 July 2022Completed

Event Location:

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Date range:

6-8 July 2022

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Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2022 10:18

Last Modified:

15 Jul 2022 10:18



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