By Rebecca Kenigsberg
While Anton Kats was describing his work, I could not help but feel a slight connection to it. The idea of lost memory is crucial to the Eastern European Jewish experience, especially my family that came from the general Ukrainian area that he talks about. The erasure of history, suppressing memory, and an attempt to assimilate is one that I know quite well from my family’s history, just one generation ago. The use of kiosk’s as an art piece, to keep the history of cultural and knowledge exchange of the original intent of the kiosk is a fascinating idea.
Memory as a whole is something I personally am fascinated with, what memories do we keep? What memories do we share? What memories do we rewrite in our head? I think it is a very large complex notion and I question the seeming simplicity of the work. For full disclosure, I am a visual person, so to hear the conversation about the piece, without seeing it specifically. Therefore, I find it difficult to reflect or assess the work.
While researching his website, I found that his objective is to question social structures, specifically the private and the public acceptance to art. Knowing his objective, I do think this art piece is a great tactic. But I wonder what the response is. Do people stop and gather to take in what the piece is? Do they notice the piece? Or are they still busy on their phone texting their friend to stop and look up at the piece.
These “past artifacts” represent a different time, a time when communication was public. It was before the 24-hour news cycle, before we had instant access to send a message to somebody, before we could even video-call. He mentioned some people were okay with the disappearing kiosks. I wonder when kiosks will be completely foreign. Teenagers today do not even know what a cassette tape is, or what the origins of “hang up” the phone actually entail. Is this work time and space specific? Does it have a chance to grow outside Athens and I believe Germany?
This year in APP, I am constantly thinking about ethics of our work. I often reflect upon the questionnaires from the beginning of the semester. Israa asked “who or what is being exploited for your art to be made?” This question has not left me since that second class.
What memories are being preserved and perpetuated? Is there a danger to preserving these memories? Who is excluded from this narrative? Pre-World War II was a very different Europe, with many oppressed people, is there a possibility these artifacts can re-victimize?
I believe Anton’s work is wonderful. These are questions I have crafted for myself as an artist, when I attempt to make pieces of work larger than my own narrative. I want to think of intent and affectiveness in my work. I do believe Anton has done a wonderful job thinking these questions through, but of course, the challenge with skype means we do not get to see the pieces in person!