Site Dedicated to the Active Effacement and Complete Disregard of History

As the culmination of their work at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) in Berlin, Amy and Catherine opened a temporary memorial site: the Site Dedicated to the Active Effacement and Complete Disregard of History. Their intent was to consider the role that forgetting plays in the construction of national identities.

The Site was open from the 24th to the 27th of January, 2013. It was marked by a black plinth that bore the words “Zur aktiven Auslöschung und gänzlichen Missachtung der Geschichte / To the Active Effacement and Complete Disregard of History”. At the top of the plinth was a piece of grass taken from the carpark that now occupies a part of the former site of the Führerbunker. Locating a grassy, weed-filled carpark at the former Führerbunker site was a deliberate strategy chosen by the Berlin government to make this potential source of unwelcome memories anonymous and innocuous. As such, the grass taken from this carpark symbolises active attempts at forgetting.

The Site was opened by Catherine and Amy with a short ceremony on the 24th of January, 2013. The monument, which had been draped in the Australian flag, was unveiled. Catherine and Amy then read a short speech in English and German (which can be read in full here) in which they considered some examples of how Germany has attempted to shape new national identities for itself by covering over and removing certain reminders of its recent history. They also discussed the event of forgetting through which Australia itself was founded: the attempted effacement of Aboriginal Australia by British settlement.

In their speech, Catherine and Amy drew attention to the fact that Australia’s national day, Australia Day, commemorates the foundation of modern Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet on the 26th of January, 1788. What this celebration ignores is that the 26th of January also marks the beginning of Indigenous dispossession, leading some to refer to it as Invasion Day. Effectively, Australians repeat and renew the effacement that founded their country every year. This makes Australia Day a perfect occasion to mark the active disregard of history. Accordingly, Amy and Catherine invited those present at the opening to mark collective forgetting by coming together at the Site on the 26th of January, 2013, for an Australia Day barbecue.

The Site Dedicated to the Active Effacement and Complete Disregard of History was closed on the 27th of January, 2013, which was also International Holocaust Memorial Day.


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