Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Corazón del espantapájaros (Heart of the Scarecrow), performance documentation, Audain Gallery, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell.
The Scripts of Memory: Writing workshop with Merray Gerges
Saturday, March 9, 2 - 4pm
Space is limited. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
It has been said that "language bears the marks of our historical, material oppressions," but what is language's capacity to bear such oppressions when the traces of a traumatic event are withheld?1 Toronto-based writer and editor Merray Gerges will lead a participatory writing workshop in relationship to the Audain Gallery's current exhibition by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, exploring how tragedy influences being, especially when the event is beyond recollection.
Ramírez-Figueroa's work references the script for El corazón del espantapájaros (The Scarecrow's Heart), written in 1962 by Guatemalan playwright Hugo Carillo, as well as Guatemalan poet Wingston González's interpretation of Carillo's script, lugar de Consuelo (place of comfort), which was written in 2016. When an experimental art-school theatre group in Guatemala City adapted Carillo's script in 1975 - taking some of its elements and extrapolating them to speak to contemporary Guatemalan politics - their interpretation offended the country's dictatorship government, instigating a rush of blatant censorship in response. Its participants received death threats; the entrance to the theatre was shot at; the theatre mysteriously caught fire. The lives of many of the art students involved - one of whom was Ramírez-Figueroa's uncle - were never the same again.
What are the ways we recall a tragedy we never witnessed firsthand, when we might not know any more beyond the fact that it happened? How does memory manifest nonverbally, especially when it is inherited? Ramírez-Figueroa's work explores these questions through performance, installation and prints, and this workshop will employ the speculative capacities of language to explore how text may or may not assist in processing loss and trauma.
Merray Gerges is a journalist and critic who writes around art rather than about it. In summer 2016, she was Editorial Resident at Canadian Art, where she is now Assistant Editor. Her reporting and criticism - which tend to address art's contexts rather than its contents - have appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, MOMUS, the Walker Art Center Reader, Hyperallergic and more, discussing topics ranging from the radical potential (and shortcomings) of intersectional feminist memes and art selfies, to art-world race politics.
* Please note that due to ongoing lobby renovations, the Audain Gallery is only accessible via the entrance on West Hastings Street.
 Mirene Arsanios, Iman Mersal and Ghalya Saadawi, "Editorial," makhzin, 2016, https://makhzin.org/issues/dictationship/editorial.