Maria-Alina Asavei

c7b55e29-3132-40f5-9e35-58e611b40722Maria-Alina Asavei is a Lecturer and Postdoctoral researcher in Russian and East European Department (Institute of International Studies, Charles University of Prague) and independent curator of contemporary art. She curated several international exhibitions of contemporary art and material culture. She received her PhD in 2013 from Central European University (Budapest) for a dissertation on “Political-Critical Art and the Aesthetic”. Asavei is a former honorary research fellow at City University of New York (CUNY) and at the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS). Her research interests revolve around critical theory, art and transitional justice, cultural studies, aesthetics, ethnography, memory studies and forms of artistic engagement during and after totalitarian regimes.

Presented Lecture: “The Art and Politics of Imagination: Remembering Mass Violence against Women”

This lecture addresses the topical role of artistic memory in the work of redress from political repression and historical injustices by focusing on the ways in which memory and imagination slip into one another resisting the violence against women. The argument I intend to put forth is that artistic memory work can foster collective memory and collective representations of the traumatic past which overcome the traditional individual representations. To this end, this paper aims to explore various instances of contemporary art productions which deal with the memorialization of violence against women in armed conflicts and political repression. The traditional preference in legal tradition for individual memory in reestablishing justice (the traditional rules of evidence in transitional justice focus on individual representation, testimony and memory) offers less space for collective representations and collective memory. However, as legal scholars (Osiel 1999, Lopez 2015) posit, the judicial system should also consider collective memory in the context of transitional justice. By examining artistic memory work which deals with violence against women, this paper will illuminate the great potential of artistic practice to convey an active remembrance of the painful past which facilitates the encountering between individual and collective memory as well as witness and post-witness (distant inheritors of memory) representations. At the same time, this paper attempts to highlight the connection between memory and imagination in artistic work which ensures a commitment to remember the past in the light of the “never again”.

Selective List of Recent Publications:

  • ‘Beauty and Critical Art: Is Beauty at Odds with Critical-Political Engagement?’ Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, vol. 7, 2015.
  • ‘Visual Chronicles from the Balkans and Central Europe: Samplers Remembered’, Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics, 9(2), 2016 1-19.
  • ‘Collectivism’, in Michael Kelly (ed.), Oxford Encyclopaedia of Aesthetics, 2 nd edition, vol. 2, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, 89-95.
  • ‘Unsettling Beauty in Japanese Critical Art: Yasumasa Morimura, Yanagi Miwa and Aida Makoto’, Modern Art Asia: Journal of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, 17, 2014, 37-49.
  • ‘Aesthetics of Resistance and Persistence’, in Alina Serban (ed.), Ion Grigorescu: The Man with a Single Camera, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014, 188-213.
  • ‘Sacred Cruelty in Contemporary Art and Popular Culture’, Lithuanian Journal of Anthropology, 1/2014, 4-20.