A Landscape of Amnesia: The Loss and Attempted Reconstruction of Memory in Artistic Representations of the Urban

Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture
Edited by Peter Collier, Anna Magdalena Elsner, and Olga Smith
Peter Lang Publishers, 2009

A Landscape of Amnesia: The Loss and Attempted Reconstruction of Memory in Artistic Representations of the Urban

Excerpt:

"Streamside Day shows how lieux de mémoire are manufactured in tandem with the birth of this physical place. A poster that reads, ‘Welcome to Streamside Day Celebration! Celebrate the first birthday of a new community!’ advertises a community celebration in which the Bambi-like deer of the destroyed forest is refashioned as puppet costume and cardboard cutout. With his simulacra-like repetition of the deer, Pierre Huyghe marks the ability to celebrate and turn into an icon exactly what has been originally destroyed (the forest now gone, this infantile animal freezes spread-legged and terrified in a concrete street). Yet, rather than create a sense of cohesiveness among the town’s members, thereby reducing the alienation induced by post-war sprawl and ‘inhuman’ landscapes, Huyghe uses these images as a setting in which the enduring displacement, confusion, and separation of this ‘community’ becomes obvious. A group of children stand not in play but in scattered formation. One little girl looks bewilderingly at an older child who faces the camera, arms strangling her sides and head encased by the plush face of a bodiless deer. The artificiality of this feeling of togetherness is materially manifest in the images’ artificiality, in which the ‘full moon’ that surveys each scene is just a literal circle of blinding white cut away from the photographic negative."

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