Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory

Ilit Azoulay

2023

auf Anfrage zugänglich

Maximiliansgymnasium, Karl-Theodor-Straße 9, 80803 München

Panoramafotomontage von rund 3000 mit einem Makroobjektiv aufgenommenen Fotos, Projektwebsite mit zusätzlichen Text- und Soundelementen, Steinrahmen, 168 x 649,5 x 4 cm.

Architecture: Braun Architekten, München & Christoph Maas Architekturbüro, München

Landscape architecture: Realgrün Landschaftsarchitektur, München

Photos: Florian Holzherr

Text: Mareike Schwarz

Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory

One of the contradictions of digital life is that the internet forgets nothing, yet increasingly causes its users to forget. “Digital amnesia” is the name of this phenomenon, as well as the title of Ilit Azoulay’s public artwork at Munich’s Maximilians Gymnasium. With Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory, the artist created a photomontage set in a stone frame that literally places the constructed quality of history and stories in the room.

The artist was invited to create a public artwork for the remodeled school. This offered an opportunity to examine the building down to its cornerstones, to see what had accumulated but also perhaps been hidden or concealed inside. Over a period of three years, Ilit Azoulay photographed the building under renovation, including the objects inside of it, with a macro lens. She then combined the numerous individual shots to create a monumentally sized, panoramic photograph. In this constructed space, architectural features, such as a staircase or representative objects from the school, such as a stone lion, are depicted side by side with everyday objects, such as a rubbish bag. The individual pictorial elements are assigned to sound pieces that can be experienced using a project website developed for the artwork, accessed via a relief-like QR code on the left side of the mural.

When a specific object is selected on the corresponding website, various poems are recited, followed by excerpts of well-known Bavarian folk hymns. These are sometimes dedicated to the Münchner Stadterl (“inhabitants of Munich”), sometimes to the sky’s Weiss und Blau (“blue and white,” the Bavarian colors). The poems were co-written with the author Abigail Schneider and are based on interviews with alumni of the Gymnasium about their school days, conducted by ten current pupils under the guidance of the dramaturg Ariana Berndl. All the voices reading, singing, or humming are computer generated. Their technical sound seems choppy, alienated, and distant.

This reflects the skepticism in the unanimous praise of Maximilians Gymnasium in conversations with former pupils. After all, the experience of growing up, especially during political upheavals, is always characterized by self-doubt, a desire for freedom, and exclusion. Isn’t the agreement that there is one history of school, country, and state simply a façade? And what forgotten memories are hidden behind it?

Ilit Azoulay is concerned with fragments and individual destinies beyond the prettified façade. The juxtaposition of the different image and sound elements of the panorama in the stone frame shows that traditional history is in a constant state of reconstruction and is not carved in stone. The sophisticated debates of Memory Studies are combined In an interactive way with the digital reality of a young generation of schoolchildren. Thus, the artwork joins a tradition of socially engaged photomontages pioneered by the Dada artist Hannah Höch, with her biting critiques about the failures of the state on the eve of World War II. As such, the artistic medium itself is already a means of expressing political dissent. Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory argues against a type of commemorative politics that glorifies rather than exemplifies. In times of digital information wars, it argues in favor of a critical awareness of history, of which memories are given space and which are not.

Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory
Digital Amnesia or Constructed Memory