The Archive & Public Culture Research Initiative (where I work) has invited Esther Peeren, author of The Spectral Metaphor: Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility (Palgrave, 2014), for a week of intense discussion, academic exchange and engagement around the theme of the ghost/spectre both as archival metaphor and as conceptual figure in post-colonial and cultural studies.
Peeren is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Vice-Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS) and senior researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). Her current research projects explore global spectralities and rural globalization.
On Tuesday, 26 August, she will deliver a lunchtime lecture, Lumumba’s Ghosts: Immaterial Matters and Matters Immaterial in Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres, in the Jon Berndt Thought Space (A17, Arts Block, Upper Campus, University of Cape Town). In her analysis of Belgian artist Sven Augustijnen’s 2011 multi-media exhibition, Spectres (which focuses on the mystery of the 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the independent Republic of the Congo), Peeren argues that a focus on immaterialities-as-spectralities prompts the viewer to take seriously that which is not immediately apprehensible, or deemed inconsequential. At the same time, it transforms our understanding of matter itself, since immateriality is inevitably implied in materiality, both metaphorically (materialities may be considered immaterial, insignificant) and literally (over time, materialities may transform, decay or even disappear).
Appealing to Jacques Derrida’s concept of spectrality, her analysis shows how Augustijnen’s work, especially the feature-length film included in the exhibition, moves the materiality of the immaterial and the immateriality of the material centre stage, and lays out the consequences of this double imbrication for individual and collective understandings of history, memory and the archive.
If you’d like to attend pn 26 August, RSVP to APCfirstname.lastname@example.org.