December 8, 2009 - February 1, 2010
Bertelsmann Campus Center

Memory of the Void

The testimonies, rumors, and myths that form the collective memory of a place are at the core of Journey to the Island. In this documentary project Neli Ruzic and Marie-Christine Camus courageously revived a buried history that not many people want to evoke. The small island of Solta, Croatia is one of the several sites that witnessed atrocities of power during World War II and where the aftermath began to reveal strategies previously used for clandestine executions. Journey to the Island (The Hole/The Midwife) focuses on the year of 1943, when there were several acts of violence between the members of the Yugoslavian resistance (the partisans) and the dominant regimes, specifically Italy.

On the island of Solta, seven people suspected of collaborating with the fascists were cast into a pit known as “Rudine”. The hole is the subject of many accounts, which range from the alleged innocence of the victims to the ruthless methods used by the partisans to hide the bodies. Rudine was investigated, but the bodies were never removed from it. Instead, it was transformed into a memorial more than a decade ago. In this particular fragment of the project, Ruzic and Camus narrate the story of a midwife through recent oral histories and their own photographs. The speculation as to whether the midwife was Italian or not still remains, and the cruelty and pain she suffered before she was thrown into Rudine is a subject of rumor as well. The memorial and the testimonies recorded by Ruzic and Camus are becoming the most visible traces of her disappearance.

The artists are interested in how historical memories are generated. Through interviews with relatives of the victims and island dwellers, as well as through information and documentation of the site, the artists are deconstructing the history of this particular moment and place. Their interviews produced a multitude of different chronicles. As the artists state, “Between a theatrical play of memory and a possible erasure of the traces of the past, we explore the signs left by the ideological discourses of history and how they operate in contemporaneous life….” Ruzic and Camus do not attempt to verify the facts, but above all, they intend to question the idea of loss and reconstruction through oral tradition. Their research and documentation not only establish different relationships among the people with this similar past in the island, but also affects their experience and our experience with history and collective memory.

Neli Ruzic ( Split, Croatia, 1966)
Graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia. Since 1999 she lives in Mexico City. In 1996 she received an Arts Link Grant for Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA. In recent projects she explores concepts of memory, migration and identity. Her works have been shown at exhibitions and festivals such as Massamerica, Caixa Forum, Barcelona 2008; Transitio_MX02, Mexico City 2007; Videobrasil, Sao Paulo 2005; ARCO 99, Madrid and the Proggeto ORESTE at the Venice Biennale 1999.

Marie-Christine Camus (Les Lilas, France, 1954)
Obtained a Master’s Degree in Communication (Paris-XIII University) and studied cinema in Mexico City (CUEC-UNAM). In her artistic works she explores concepts of history and memory and in the last few years her artistic research is focused on the creation of visual archives on World War II. In 2008 she received the Step beyond grant for the project Journey to the Island. Some of her works have been selected for festivals and shown in exhibitions such as Vidarte (2003), MexParisMental (2006), Multimedia Images in a Complex World (2008) and MexicoNewYorkParis (2008).

Curated by CCS Bard graduate student Andrea Torreblanca

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College is the third venue to host Matthew Higgs’s (Curator and Director of White Columns) bulletin board project. CCS and Higgs collaborated to begin a bulletin board program at Bard in the fall of 2007 with the understanding that the graduate students at CCS would curate it. The bulletin board is an enclosed glass case divided into three panes by aluminum bars. As of January 26, it has migrated from outside of the CCS Library to its new location in the Bertelsmann Campus Center, adjacent to the billiard tables.


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