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Aberystwyth University

Old College

King Street

Aberystwyth

SY23 2AY

United Kingdom

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In this three-day symposium we reflect on the politics of disappearance, investigating how aesthetic practices of representing absence and materialising presence engage with the embodied experience of those facing the trauma of disappearance. How does artistic practice make manifest what happens when someone is missing, relating the responses of relatives to the event of disappearance, and exposing how those responsible are called to account.

People who are disappeared leave traces behind: traces of presence, photographs and personal possessions. Though the demand is “We want them back alive!’ in the end it is often only human remains—skeletal traces—that are recovered and identified. The relatives of the disappeared also make traces of their own: their shoes wear out as they walk from office to office demanding action, as they march in protest, and as they search for the bodies of their missing relatives. They trace the names of their sons or daughters in thread, embroidering handkerchiefs or headscarves in their honour, and keeping the possibility of their return alive.

We explore how these material traces made by relatives form an embodied challenge to absence, one that can be animated and set to work, and we look at the spread of the search for and forensic identification of remains beyond ‘experts’. The symposium takes place alongside two exhibitions: Footprints of Memory: Searching for Mexico’s Disappeared, by Mexican artist Alfredo Lopez Casanova, and Stitched Voices, an exhibition including textiles marking disappearance.

Speakers include:

  • Vikki Bell, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths

  • Arely Cruz-Santiago, Research Postgraduate, Department of Geography, Durham

  • Jill Greenhalgh, Theatre Maker, Artistic Director of The Magdalena Project

  • Eileen Harrisson, School of Art, Aberystwyth

  • Danielle House, ESRC Doctoral Candidate, Aberystwyth

  • Adrian Kear, Professor of Theatre and Performance, Aberystwyth

  • Becky Knight, Textile Artist

  • Alfredo López Casanova, Plastic Artist, Mexico City

  • Mike Pearson, Emeritus Professor, Aberystwyth

  • María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, Mother of one of the 43 Ayotzinapa Students


PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME

Coffees/teas and lunches are included

Thursday 6 April 2017
Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Parry-Williams Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth

15.30-17.00 Registration and coffee, Gallery 1, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Penglais, Aberystwyth

16.00-17.00 Guided exhibition visit: Stitched Voices, Gallery 1, Aberystwyth Arts Centre

17.00-18.30 Wine Reception and Session (1) Rehearsal Room 1, Parry Williams Building:
Workshops: Embroidery for Peace (Danielle House) / Arpillera (Becky Knight)

19.00 Dinner

Friday 7 April 2017
Seddon Room, Old College, King Street, Aberystwyth

10.30-11.00 Registration and Coffee

11.00-12.00 Session (2): “The Missing Actor: Traces of Presence and the Aesthetics of Absence,” Adrian Kear, Professor of Theatre and Performance, Aberystwyth (Chair and introductory remarks: Jenny Edkins, Professor of International Politics, Aberystwyth)

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13.00-14.00 Exhibition visit: Footprints of Memory: Searching for Mexico’s Disappeared, Ty Celf/The Art House, Maes Lowri /Laura Place, Aberystwyth

14.00-15.30 Session (3): Footprints of Memory Workshop and discussion of exhibition: Alfredo López Casanova, Artist, Mexico City; María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, Mother of one of the 43 Ayotzinapa Students (Chair: Danielle House)

15.30-16.30 Session (4): “The Acts – Vigia,” A presentation of the performance work The Acts - Vigia - an attempt to respond to the brutality of the feminicide perpetrated on the Mexico/US border. Jill Greenhalgh, Theatre Maker, Artistic Director of The Magdalena Project (Chair: Jenny Edkins)

16.30-17.00 Coffee

17.00-18.30 Session (5): "Citizen-led Forensics: Searching for Disappeared Persons in Mexico," Arely Cruz-Santiago, Department of Geography, Durham / “Of Grief and Reconciliation: Reflections on conflict embodied in the symbiotic relationship between stitch, sound and word, voiced through the prism of the Troubles in Northern Ireland,” Eileen Harrisson, School of Art, Aberystwyth (Chair: Adrian Kear)

19.00 Dinner

Saturday 8 April 2017
Seddon Room, Old College, King Street, Aberystwyth

10.30-11.00 Registration and coffee

11.00--12.00 Session (6): “Ghosts in the city: on appearances and disappearances within the urban milieu,” Mike Pearson, Emeritus Professor, Aberystwyth (Chair: Danielle House)

12.00-12.30 Film showing: Absences / Ausencias Tatiana Huezo, Mexico/El Salvador, 2015

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-15.00 Session (7): Keynote: “Bringing the Past to Presence: Creative Memory and the Trace of the Creaturely,” Vikki Bell, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths (Chair: Adrian Kear)

15.00-16.00 Coffee and revisit exhibitions: Footprints of Memory / Stitched Voices

16.00 Close

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Date and Time

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Aberystwyth University

Old College

King Street

Aberystwyth

SY23 2AY

United Kingdom

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