Blind Memories

Ana Avendano, Joanne Gibbs, Rita Keegan, Cheryl Lane, Taslim Martin, Agnes Poitevin-Navarre and Susan Stockwell

28 September 2007 to 14 December 2007

The role of visual representations of the slave trade in the formation of collective memories. With Ana Avendano, Joanne Gibbs, Rita Keegan, Cheryl Lane, Taslim Martin, Agnes Poitevin-Navarre and Susan Stockwell.

198’s contribution to the commemoration of the parliamentary abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Blind Memories proposes to look at the role of visual representations in the formation of collective memories of the Trade.

Memory traces, impressions or images, have figured in theories of memory from Aristotle through Descartes, Freud and into 21st century thinking. Precious devices of the mourning process, relics from the past have a crucial role in the foundation of group identities following the experience of a traumatic event. But how legitimate are these relics when, as per the case of visual representations of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, they are partly based upon strangely rooted, compromised emotions “such as envy for the slave as ultimate martyr, philanthropic sentimentality and even pornographic fantasy?” (M. Wood, 2000).

Gathering an eclectic body of work by artists Ana Avendano, Joanne Gibbs, Rita Keegan, Cheryl Lane, Taslim Martin, Agnes Poitevin-Navarre and Susan Stockwell, Blind Memories reinterprets,across a variety of media, the iconic representation(s) of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and their legacies, from 15th century portulan charts to 19th century anthropological photography, critically assesses their role in the History writing process, and their contribution to the politics of representing race and the fantasised, imaginary “other”. Blind Memories evaluates how this bizarre assemblage of voices allows us to achieve any degree of understanding of the Slave Trade today, and ultimately begs the question: can we make art out of the middle passage?