Peter Osborne – “The Truth Will be Known When the Last Witness is Dead”: History Not Memory

CILAVS Seminar

Event Date: Monday, 17 May 2010, 6-7.30pm,
Room B04, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Peter Osborne (Middlesex) - ‘”The Truth Will be Known When the Last Witness is Dead”: History Not Memory’

This talk contests what it calls the ‘memory model’ for understanding historical meaning in contemporary art. Setting out from a series of conceptual distinctions between history and memory, which throw doubt on attempts to understand and value contemporary art as ‘artefacts of remembrance’, it develops an alternative theoretical perspective on the critical-historical meaning of contemporary art in the transnational spaces of the international artworld. A contrast between the (backward-looking) memory-model and the (futural) idea of speculative collectives is explored via a critical comparison of 3 recent video works: ‘We Can Make Rain But No One Came to Ask’ (2005) by The Atlas Group; ‘Lightning Testimonies’ (2007) by Amar Kanwar; and ‘Lacuna in Testimony’ (20036) by Navjot Altaf.

Peter Osborne is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Middlesex University. His publications include El Arte Más Allá de la Estética: Ensayos filosóficos sobre el arte contemporáneo (CENDEAC, 2010), Marx (Granta, 2005), Philosophy in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 2000) and The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (Verso, 1995).

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