Stories Without Endings: Michaela Melián’s Memory Loops

by Paddy Johnson on January 14, 2011 Reviews

Michaela Melián, Memory Loop

It’s possible no story is ever complete because its telling can be so varied. And as history demonstrates, there is also no singular narrative to follow. We may share common history but our experiences will be unique to us.

A guiding principle behind artist Michaela Melián’s website Memory Loops and city wide installation stretching across Munich, 300 German and 175 English audio narratives tell grim stories from the victims of National Socialism and contemporary witnesses. Each are sinked to original music composed by Melián and based on transcriptions of historical and recent material.

The stories themselves are distinctive in their details. A young woman narrates a recollection about being an 11 year old girl growing up in a family who were not supporters of Hitler. On election night her parents tasked her with writing the election results down on a map as her mother silently cried at the sink. In another account, an old rabbi unsuccessfully fights to keep his synagogue from being demolished. There was too much traffic in the area, the Nazis argued, even though there was little and the building was an important landmark.

This last story would undoubtedly also be installed near where the synagogue had been, tying the personal narrative to the landscape. For this reason I wish for a little more google street view from the website. Even if it is imperfect recreation of a site specific experience, it at least allows the viewer to better locate that history in within the metropolis. And as with stories, cities too are never complete.

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