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ReMaking History: Art in Time explores the relationship of art to history, memory, and time. Twenty-three artists, from Europe, Africa and the Americas, investigate how the past is constructed as history and how art can conceptualize and critique historical representation. Artists reveal the uncanny ways that images and experiences from the past penetrate our present, often creating a sense of déjà vu. The exhibition is organized along five themes that draw connections across time and space, including Time After Time, The Dispossessed, The Former West, Post-Colonial, and War.
The traditional Eurocentric vision of history is characterized by linear narratives and universal concepts that emphasize individualism and mastery. This notion lasted through the mid-twentieth century. In the last several decades, however, contemporary historians and artists have changed the way history is written and portrayed. Philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Michel Serres have promoted alternative histories, multiple voiced accounts, and a plurality of interpretations. Contemporary history and art include narratives that value all human experience, politics, and social interaction. They encompass oral history and women’s history along with issues such as race, gender and environmental change. In these endeavors, art and history are utterly intertwined, making and remaking the human story.
Artists in ReMaking History use memory as a lens through which they distill, reinterpret, or recall personal, historical, and political events, sometimes reworking images and text in the process. They expose missing or silenced voices and contest the notion of the archive as the definitive proof of “truth.” Most artists produced their work on either side of the millennium. During a time of rapid change, they have responded in a variety of ways. Some artists develop narratives based on cyclical, organic, or illogical models of time; others address history through the memory of oppression, conflict, displacement and reconciliation.
Today we live in a volatile and fragmented world and wonder about the history we are making. The artists in this exhibition confront our expanding ecological and human crisis, renewing history and memory as a guide for the future. By making and remaking history, these artists expand our perspectives, understanding, imagination and desire to create a better and more vibrant world.
This exhibition is curated by Kerry Oliver-Smith, former Curator of Contemporary Art.