• Colin Sterling

Singularities: Heritage and Memory Beyond Experience

Talk at the conference 'Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience', Newcastle University, 29-30 July 2019


This paper reflects on the different ways in which contemporary art, architecture and design might reshape notions of difficult memory and ‘contested heritage’. Drawing on curatorial and research work undertaken as part of a nationwide project exploring new approaches to memorialisation – and building on a longer-term engagement with questions of art and archaeology and heritage and photography – the paper will consider the overlaps and divergences between performative, ‘experiential’ gestures of remembrance, and more familiar physical manifestations of counter-memorialisation. To what extent does the curated ‘moment’ offer a challenge to heritage orthodoxies when it comes to memory and forgetting? How might such experiences be ‘materialised’ now and in the future? Can we discern the outlines of a new ‘memory culture’ in works that are monumental in scope yet innately ephemeral, such as Jeremy Deller’s ‘we’re here because we’re here’? I will approach these questions with reference to Frederic Jameson’s theorisation of the ‘aesthetics of singularity’ and wider concerns around the ‘experience economy’ today.

Read more about the Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience project.

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