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Musée de l’Orangerie

On a recent trip to Normandy I visited the home of one of my favorite artists: Claude Monet. My fascination with his work began in high school when I took several art courses, and only flourished as I familiarized myself with more of his work and techniques for creating masterpieces. Later that week I decided that a trip to the Musée de l’Orangerie would be necessary after my newly gained knowledge of Monet and his work that is housed in this museum. I was excited to put a face to the duplicate paintings I saw in the actual home of the artist, and somehow brought the memory of his life’s work into reality. …

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Sites of Memory

In the reading entitled “Sites of Memory,” Jay Winter describes the life and history of sites of memory, and it’s continuation through life. The author exemplifies the Great War to memory and mourning for the cultural history of Europe, while sites of memory is broken down into categories such as aesthetics, history, ritual, and remembrance. It was quite interesting to see how the author pulled himself back from the topic of grief in a personal matter and instead, related mourning to a language, one forever linked to historical remembrance. “Historical remembrance subsumes these cadences as it admits the power of family rhetoric to shape the language people use when they come to sites…

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A Systems Theory Approach to Memory in Art Practice

In her article, “Social Forgetting: A Systems-Theory Approach”, published in the Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook, (ed. Astrid Erll and Ansgar Nünning, 2008), Elena Esposito discusses the notion of social memory and its relationship to history and discourses on ethnography in the contemporary era of globalization. She argues for an approach to conceptions of memory—that which we call ‘memory’ representing the nuanced cognitive balance between remembering and forgetting on a collective, and personal-individual, scale—in society (both distinct cultural societies, as well as the ‘new’ global society procured by mass media) that is self-reflexive. Referring to the work of German theorist Niklas Luhmann, this self-reflexivity of a systems…

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Carrefour de l’Odéon

There is a specific spot near Saint Germain des Prés in Paris, which is the meeting point of young and trendy parisians. This particular meeting point is located at Carrefour de l’Odéon, and more specifically, around Danton’s Statute. This location intrigues me because it is a total reappropriation of historical monument for the benefit of contemporary practices. Originally, Danton was a French politician of the 18th century, one of the symbol of the French revolution. He was a charismatic leader and his non-prepared speeches had a way of hypnotizing the Assemblée Nationale audiences. Danton did not physically participated to the French revolutionary days in July 1792; but he did arrange and…

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The American Cemetery in Normandy: Paradise and Hell at the same time

     Normandy is definitely an authentic memorial place. Normandy is one of the most green and beautiful regions in the world. Yet, most of the people know about it because of a very important event that happened there. On June 6th 1944, an invasion of the allied forces took place there and that was the beginning of the end of the Second World War and of the Nazi Germany. The Allied Powers (U.S.A., Great Britain and Soviet Union) decided that a second front was needed so that Germany would be obliged to fight in two fronts and thus split its forces. The place of the invasion chosen was Normandy. If…

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Basilique Saint Denis

The Saint Denis Basilica is a sacred burial place where kings, queens, and saints from 10th century onwards were buried in tombs and their memory preserved in sculptures carved from marble/stone. Currently, the Saint Denis basilica is a world’s most sacred attraction site because it has been transformed into a museum. This means that the Basilica creates a memorable space that cannot undergo erosion of time. Indeed, the Basilica is constantly renovated. In spite of the concrete memory and history the Basilica holds, scholar Pierre Nora argues otherwise in the book Les lieux de mémoire. According to Pierre Nora, “an archive becomes a memory only if the imagination invests the…

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Lieux de mémoire

  The history of society affects culture and remembrance of people. Memory is the ability to recall previous events. In the text Les Lieux de Memoire, Pierre Nora shows how memory is formed and how history makes people forget some memorable occurrences. In the text, one can see the significance of memory on history. A gradual change in culture denotes the failure for a fast change in history. Industrial growth of a country contributes to its underdevelopment. Colonization is another way that impedes the ability to develop. Speeding up of the history of society is one of the reasons leading to a loss in collective memory. This obstructs people from…

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Demarcation and the Spectacle of Death

In her book Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris, author and critic Vanessa Schwartz delineates the historical and political undercurrents that carried forth the transformation of the cemetery into an emergent contemporary social space. In 1864, the Paris Morgue was constructed and opened to the public. Its central location in the city—both geographically and in terms of daily life, movement, and commerce—on Île de la Cité implicitly affirmed this space as one that represented a composite part of the very fiber of Parisian politics and community. Schwartz writes, “[…] the morgue transformed the banality everyday life by spectacularizing it.” And what function does this serve—this movement away from…

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When visiting Normandy as a class, memory of

When visiting Normandy as a class, memory of the actual D-Day event kept popping into my head in three sites in specific, the cemetery overlooking Omaha beach, Omaha beach, and Grandcamp Pointe du Hoc.  The museum and the memorial where not as impacting because it seemed fabricated and less natural, almost forced.   Omaha beach was the hardest to grasp the severity of the event due the beautiful view and the serenity of the ocean and how peaceful it seemed. However everywhere you turned there was an object to remind you of the event. For example the Les Braves monument.   The short time we visited the beaches it was…

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Memory Practises and the Tourist Gaze

Whether one is a tourist, resident, or expat, having a “room with a view” is always desirable, and as a property owner, it adds value. As a student at AUP and now Paris resident, chose to live close to campus for easy access to class. Being that AUP is in the 7eme arrondissement, I found myself in an apartment right next to the Eiffel Tower. Gazing out of my windows daily, I can always see the countless visitors who make the trek up the Eiffel Tower for views of the city. Walking down my street at anytime, one always finds tourists stopping to marvel at the view of the Eiffel…

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