Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe

Changing Mediations: Images

(Duration of the project March 2019 – Feb 2021)

As a postdoc in the REACT project, I am studying how images shape the memory of activism and memory in activism. I am especially interested in iconic images which, at a certain point, come to be viewed as symbolic visual representation of an entire movement. Why, when, and how do images achieve this iconic status? What kind of actors are involved? What is the role of protest movements themselves in this process? And, finally, what is the relation between the aesthetics of an image and its iconic status? Hoping to showcase the network methodology of the REACT project, I am currently looking at these questions through the lens of the Dutch anarchist Provo movement (1965-1967), mapping the connections between visual carriers of memory, memorata  (the events remembered) and mnemonic actors in the NODEGOAT programme. At the same time, I am applying recently developed computer vision techniques to study visual trends in large-scale archives of images of protest. Can we use these techniques to study the repetition of images and visual motives? Is there a pathosformel, as famous art historian Aby Warbug would have it, of images of protest?