Talk: Marc Nichanian
Which archive for the survivor?

Salt Galata

May 10, 2016 19.00

Marc Nichanian
SALT Galata, Auditorium (via Skype)

“Everyone seems to think that trauma calls for archive… The archive is itself the very trauma it would resolve.” This double statement by Rebecca Comay (in the Introduction of the voluminous and impressive volume Lost in the Archive, 2004) has often been misunderstood as though she wanted to denounce the drive to accumulate (objects, traces, evidence, documents), as though she wanted to say that too much memory is bad for memory. But archive is not memory. It is rather the contrary, the catastrophe of memory. The survivor of such a catastrophe is entirely stripped of himself, because he is also stripped of the event that made him a survivor. This is the first and essential dimension of the archive. As a consequence, each time we show a particular archive, the survivor appears (and disappears) behind the image as what s/he is: the dead witness.

Organized in parallel to the exhibition Empty Fields at SALT Galata, Nichanian’s talk will be held in English via Skype with simultaneous translation to Turkish.

Marc Nichanian was professor of Armenian Studies at Columbia University, New York, until 2007, after which he began to teach regularly as a visiting professor at Sabancı University, Istanbul, in the program of Cultural Studies. He is the author of Entre l’art et le témoignage (three volumes, Geneva: Métispresses, 2006-2008), The Historiographic Perversion (New York: Columbia University, 2009), and Edebiyat ve Felaket, the Turkish translation of a series of public lectures in Istanbul (Istanbul: İletişim, 2011). His most recent publications are Mourning Philology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014) in English, Patker, patum, patmut’iun [Image, Story, History] (Yerevan: ActualArt, 2015) in Armenian, and Le Sujet de l’histoire. Vers une phénoménologie du survivant (Paris: Lignes, 2015) in French. He has also published an Armenian translation of three novels by Maurice Blanchot (Death Sentence, The Madness of the Day, The Last Man, Yerevan: ed. Inknagir, 2013).