Book Chapter

'Memory, History, Forgetting in Documentary Art: Sounding Recollections of a Conflicted Past'



History is a science of traces, and it is the trace that ‘orients the hunt, the quest, the search, the inquiry’ (Ricoeur, 1988). In documentary art the temporal contingency of the trace affects the quest in many ways, and cinematic imagination also operates beyond narrative discourse. The interrelation of trace-memory-imagination so crucial for the ‘telling’ of the past (Ricoeur, 2004) crystallizes differently in cinematic enactments of lived time. Susana de Sousa Dias’ films Natureza Morta. Visages d’une Dictature (2005) and 48 (2009) relate to Fascism and colonialism (the Portuguese context of Salazar’s dictatorship 1926-1974). A conceptualization of cultural memory and forgetting meets with a ‘montage in temporal depth’ (De Sousa Dias, 2015), and the sounding memory work of these films suggest ‘a deeply cinematic form of historiography’ (Skoller, 2005). In dialogue with reflections on ‘the first person plural’ (Lebow, 2012), on mourning of a traumatic past, the aesthetics and agency of ‘pensive images’ (Rancière, 2009), the aims of this presentation are: 1/ To desacralize the trace and to acknowledge the enacted audiovisual trace as a vector for cinematic imagination, 2/ To underscore the role of listening and the ‘sounding’ of edited voices and cinematic silence.

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About the Author

Malin Wahlberg

Dr. Malin Wahlberg is an Associate Professor in Cinema Studies at the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Wahlberg received her PhD at Stockholm University in 2003 and have since then published work in the fields of classical film... Read more