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At Memory’s Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture

Young, James. At Memory’s Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Available in entirety on Google Books.


This text establishes the possibility of something like lieux d'oubli: artforms or monuments in collective space that smuggle traces of absence into public presence by disappearing, erasing, or otherwise negating themselves. Artifacts of counter-memory can exist as safeguards against the totalizing form of national or collective memory that traditional monuments uphold, by foregrounding their own partiality and impermanence. They are thus a more adequate form for remembering erased or contested events, or atrocities which defy representation: to capture trauma, the counter-monument silences itself. Young arrives at this form through a theoretical consideration of public memory in Germany, and of the artistic responses that attempt to grapple with this memory.

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