Damnatio memoriae: Ideological Ruins and Political Memories, Session at CAA Conference, Los Angeles 2009

IAWIS SESSION AT CAA, Los Angeles, 25-28 February 2009

This panel for the IAWIS session at the 97th CAA annual conference in Los Angeles relates to the destruction, restoration, hiding, fading and erasing of the visual and printed remains of political regimes. It addresses in particular the ways in which the cultural and artistic production created under a political establishment has been treated by subsequent governments and authorities. Semi-faded inscriptions and decorations testifying to a previous political climate still pervade the urban and rural landscapes of many countries in the Western as well as non-Western worlds. The peculiar political charge of this cultural patrimony has posed and still continues to pose original challenges both to the newer political authorities and functionaries devoted to the conservation and valorization of the architectural, artistic and printed heritage of a particular culture.

The panel examines the effects of this evidence that survives political change and the ways in which it interferes with the codes we use in dealing with the cultural object. Themes of interest include: the selection, creation, dismembering and re-nomination of collections of documents, books and printed ephemera in the public libraries and archives; the influence of political censorship in the restoration of buildings and art objects; the definition of specific theories of visual pedagogy through the handling of these politically charged ruins; the attitude toward lettering and illustration in the policies of renovation and display applied to inscribed surfaces.