Abstract

In this article, I describe a journey my sister Rebecca and I made in 2012 to Eastern Europe, part diasporic return/roots journey and part artistic residency, during which we developed artworks in the form of ritual, performative practices with bread and salt. Our diasporic Jewish family had little knowledge of their place of origin, a village in Lithuania. The artworks that we made on the trip explore connections between bread, salt and memory, through the haptic qualities of touch and taste. Documenting these artworks and re-enacting family photographs calls into question the veracity of "roots" and the role of memory in the present.
Through reflecting on our journey and art practices, I ask how individual subjectivities are identified and how dialogue between self and other is revealed and concealed, where those others may be in the past, and have left little trace in the present. I also ask how pasts and presents are negotiated in the making and unmaking of subjectivities, and how these contested relationships between past and present may be traced, acknowledged and surfaced. And I connect our personal history with wider heritages, ones that are currently contested and politically charged.
We used bread and salt in a threshold ritual, Khlebosolny (2012) in which the materiality of bread and salt became tools to fill absences, and to embody different kinds of meaning. Through ephemeral memorials using salt, we left residual traces in particular places. The work we made in Vilnius and the Lithuanian villages is remembrance as an act made present, and I suggested that this ongoing process of mediation in the present can be seen as attaching specific meaning to memory by enacting it. Therefore, a choice is continually being made about how this memory and heritage is reproduced, in the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)15-38
Number of pages18
JournalMobile Cultural Studies
Volume2018
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Keywords

  • memory and place
  • Heritage Tourism
  • Performance Art
  • roots journey
  • Holocaust

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