Anna Korteweg: Memory and the Urban Environment
Mentor: John Heymans
External reviewer: Jorinde Seijdel
This thesis will focus on the question how memory and human longing for the past settle themselves in physical space. The question involves three main issues: time, space and the relation between them, based on the human experience of time. That is, time expressed in the temporal categories past, present and future.
The first part of the thesis will explain what significance memory has had in Western society since the eighteenth-century. The first chapters focus on the obsession with memory defined as nostalgia. Using the study on nostalgia by artist, writer and theorist Svetlana Boym, this part gives a definition of the term, a historical outline and the significance of nostalgia in Western societies today. To clarify the relation between nostalgia and the experience of time, part of the text concentrates on the concept of time-experience defined by historian Reinhart Koselleck. Next, this part focuses on the ideas of Svetlana Boym regarding the relation between nostalgia and space.
After that, the thesis shifts to a similar yet distinctive approach of the subject, offered by art historian Andreas Huyssen. After a summary of his ideas about the obsession with memory, which relate to the study of recent history, a comparison and evaluation of Huyssens’ and Boym’s studies conclude the first part of the thesis.
The Second part focuses on concrete examples of temporal experiences in conjunction with physical space. By means of Boym’s and Huyssen’s observations, this chapter describes the monumentalization and future planning of Berlin since the downfall of the Wall in 1989. Furthermore, a study on Russian and American artists Ilya Kabakov and Gordon Matta-Clark will go deeper into the notion of memory and space in art. The thesis concludes with an overall evaluation, reflection and the relevance of the subject to personal practice and artistic research.