Creative Discourse Counter-Memories

Counter Memories Key Visual
© Goethe-Institut
  • 07. December 2020 — 31. October 2021

  • Culture of memory, Postcolonial art production, Reappraisal of the colonial past

  • Toronto (Canada)

The conversation series “Counter-Memories” investigates a number of international monuments and places of remembrance whose symbolic significance reveals a great deal about the relationship of civilisations to their history.

To shed light on historical memory in different places, the Goethe-Institutes in North America, the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles and the Onassis Foundation Los Angeles bring together artists, activists and intellectuals. They convene for illustrated virtual conversations around the topic historical memory complemented by video clips of historical testimonies, pictures and videos.

The project was initiated due to recent protests and interventions around statues of Confederate generals and figures such as Columbus and Bismarck reflecting a yearning to correct and critically re-examine dominant histories and their ongoing legacies in the present.

At the beginning of Counter-Memories the synagogue in Stommeln was a centre piece of the project. It is one of the few places of public Jewish life in Germany that was not destroyed during the 1938 pogroms. In order to create a new perception and attention among the population for this place, the conceptual artist and professor of public art Mischa Kuball illuminated the synagogue over a period of eight weeks. The building cast light on its surroundings like a light sculpture and became a symbol visible from afar. In the following video Kuball takes us to the synagogue in Stommeln near Cologne and tells us the almost forgotten history of this special place. In a conversation with the curator Paul Holdengräber, Kuball provides insights into artistic projects in Stommeln, at the Jewish Museum in Berlin and in Katowice, Poland.

Counter-Memories is a cooperation between the Goethe-Institutes in Canada, Mexico and the USA, the Onassis Foundation Los Angeles and the Thomas Mann House Los Angeles in collaboration with the project Shaping the Past.