In and Out of Memory: Exploring the Tension Between Remembering and Forgetting When Recalling 9/11, a Traumatic Event
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In and out of memory: exploring the tension between remembering and forgetting when recalling 9/11, a traumatic event.
My research is an unravelling of a traumatic memory to describe, understand and answer questions about the 'trauma body.' In my research, I put forward the idea that traumatic memories are detached memories with an emotional resonance that fixes them historically in a specific place and time, unwieldy anchors for a body that is neither here (present), nor there (in the past). I analyse this paradox from philosophical and psychoanalytical perspectives. Through a layered arts practice of text, sonic art work, and moving and still imagery I examine the tension where trauma meets memory, whether in an attempt to forget, or an effort to remember. Memory in this context is perceived as crucial towards understanding oneself socially, culturally and personally, whilst trauma is understood as an experience borne by the act of ‘leaving,’ wherein the mind’s coping mechanism overwhelmed by shocking external events fractures or splits.
I began this process by revisiting a journal written on the day of and days following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A journal that had remained closed and unread until starting my research in 2012. My aim was to deconstruct my memory of this traumatic event, lay it to rest and explore the latent witnessing that defies assimilation into a narrative. I employ autoethnography as a methodology to facilitate a greater understanding of trauma and its wider cultural implications, overlaying my personal memories upon a well-established collective memory of 9/11. Autoethnography, in this
instance, is a reformulation of ethnography or anthropology, an in-depth examination of context incorporating cross-disciplinary approaches. With an emphasis on self-reflection and subjective participation, as both the artist and the owner of certain memories, my intention was to engage a larger epistemological discussion of the meeting place of trauma and memory.