Round table EDN: “Which kind of memory are we interested in?”

19, 20, 21… days ago I was sitting in a circle with other people that commute to the broad field of dance in Europe. From our various perspectives and realities we were having a conversation triggered by the following question:

“Which kind of memory are we interested in?”

Today I searched for the etymology of the word “memory” and this brings me back to an origin based on “recollection, awareness, consciousness”, “fame, renown, reputation” or “faculty of remembering”.

Today I have also decided to listen to a series of songs that contain the word memory as I write these lines.

And now, in this undeniable sense of touch and the motions around my body, I attempt to remember that conversation which began with the possibility of reformulating questions. Questions that are derived, that are transformed through the simple movement of wanting to understand. Maybe it was an attempt to recall a memory that is already a reformulation from she who remembers it, she who sustains it, she who suspends it or she who registers it; the memories and skills of the holder.

The question arises whether dance houses are activating a registered memory. I remember Àngels and Matildhe talking in the morning about the memory contained in the archives of CND and Mercat de les Flors (one open for consultation and the other closed) and how that archival body is taking up spaces and triggering actions within the theater and its peripheries. In some ways, memory is part of what some of us do from the beginning as we grow on time but dance houses have to be able to proceed a memory that can be displayed, that can continue generating present realities or cycles between movements of different temporalities.

We were a group of people. There was a mixture of different places. The conversation flowed, was suspended, misunderstood, reformulated, deviated, concentrated….Each person there had a different body: open, sensitive, tired, bored, attentive…….some people were leaning on the wall, some arrived later and some of us were taking notes…. My notes got lost. And now I’m trying to remember something that, as time passes by, had become more tangible. Even more present.

I return to the etymology because it helps me to intertwine those memories into something that can bring us closer to the question. Despite the digression and continuous change of topics and thoughts, I notice at least three approaches to memory as I remember us speaking: memory that wants to strengthen certain names (fame), memory that generates consciousness and memory that we recall as subjects (faculty of remembering).

One example of the memory that wants to strengthen certain names could be an archive. In the middle of our conversation, someone in the circle spoke of Derrida mentioning something like “to archive something means to kill something else”. And, in that line, we go back to the beginning of the conversation with a contribution that wondered if dance houses simply want to remember the success and the establishment of dance. Some of us wonder if what rests in dance houses is exclusively the success of something.  Is there something else further than the reputation that artists get by being part of a construction that legitimizes them? Is that the kind of memory that we want? What can we do as spaces, in relation to other narratives, to host a memory without it becoming part of the “appropriative identity” of the same institution? What form should it have?

Someone contributed to this line of thought commenting that many of the formats in which the works are documented are the audio-visual files.

The memory that generates consciousness would be, for example, the memory of something that makes you responsible in the present sense. One person spoke of social movements in countries in which the current government or the citizen movement removes or destroys certain monuments that exist in the public sphere. That movement poses a re-appropriation of public memory that allows the citizenship to be active. In that case, we can address which types of monuments, and therefor, which types of memories, we want in our streets or in public realms such as dance houses.

The memory we recall from our own experience seems to come into the conversation after talking about the archive for a while. We spoke about the subjective eye, my “own” eye, as a way of giving memory and creating history. That individual perspective can empower encounters between different visions. The accumulation of personal stories gives us a much more complex sense of memory and therefore a bigger construction takes place.

Someone mentioned Olga de Soto as an example of a dance artist who suggested subjective memory as a way to approach a shared history. A history yet to be decided….

Can we go back to practicing an approach towards history as a faculty of remembering together?

After some minutes of conversing, we found it important to remind ourselves that the body is also the architecture and the object with which certain places coexist. Memory is in sensing, which implies listening and resonance among many different entities. Buildings, walls, columns, objects… all have memories.

Recently one of the persons in that circle wrote me with the following memory: “I also briefly mentioned the theories of Rupert Sheldrake of morphic fields/resonance and memory being property of space, stored in the networks of various agents”.

Finally, and looking back, I see that none of my memories are static and that my way of remembering is still limited to how the present allows me to do so. In this case, neither the archive nor we, are static. This kind of present is a good context in which to appreciate that what we generate with our memories are possibilities for other movements yet to come. In that circle on the 16th of February, we spoke about the possibility of understanding the archive, as well as the memories it contains, as a movement that evolves with the place.  We convey that a memory makes us also responsible of what has been forgotten.

We might need to create spaces where the visible and the invisible co-exists inside and outside of institutional archives.

This memory I’m having, which is mixed with other memories, leads me to a feeling of constantly conversing. Conversing with the memories of that day and all things in between.

I thank all the people and other agencies that were there and that trigger big part of these lines.

2 thoughts on “Round table EDN: “Which kind of memory are we interested in?”

  1. Interesting post. Having read it it I find myself asking about forgetting and whether the fear of forgetting is driving our current concerns with cultural memory and under what conditions do we or others decide what can or should be forgotten. I think false memory syndrome and the current desire to re-write history driven by identity politics and/or cultural relativism, is having an impact on what and how we chose to remember – ‘ Lest we forget’. Sx

    1. Steve, so great to read you. Thanks for your words. I guess if we will try to address forgetting inside of this context we will need also to go into the etymology of it and decide which are the actions related with such a word: “lose the power of recalling to the mind; fail to remember; neglect inadvertently,”…
      And still we find ourselves with different procedures to the word, and therefore, to the action and understanidng of it.
      I come to think about the people that wants to be forgotten in Facebook claiming “the right to be forgotten” ( ) as well as thinking about people with Alzheimer or certain aspects of attention (we remember what we put attention on, what our memory tell us is our modes of giving value to things). Also come to think about a TED talk on Fake Memory. ( )
      As individuals we might know what we need, what we are able to as well as other aspects strictly related to our own perspective, mode of seeing and experiencing things. Nevertheless, if we are talking about an institution, how can there be a space for forgetting and what’s the place to remember? what there is to remember and how? for whom? ….

      Well, thinking out loud. As usual…

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