Damnatio Memoriae



Ruth Ewan

In her current project “Damnatio Memoriae”, Ruth Ewan (b. 1980 in Aberdeen) deals with penal practices and strategies of memory and forgetting in different historical contexts. Thorough research and participatory workshops stand at the outset of an artistic process that is realized using found materials such as postcards, newspaper articles, posters and films.

Two dissimilar objects, an early modern muzzle and a rare variety of tomato occasion an analysis of history and memory in “Damnatio Memoriae”. Countless red-black tomatoes transform the M.1 hall into a giant greenhouse. The dark-shaded fruit is named after the African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson (1898-1976). In the 40s and 50s, he suffered to massive repressive repercussions for his political fight against racism. Censors ruthlessly deleted his artistic existence.

Witches, on the other hand, are still remembered to this today as the prototypical objects of persecution via countless demonic images. This type of collective memory, fed by various popular sources, is of no less interest to Ruth Ewan than the sort of active forgetting evidenced in Robeson’s case. The artist discussed, manipulated and reinterpreted potent imagery with young people. The aforementioned muzzle served as point of departure. It was put on women (among others) suspected of practicing witchcraft, thus brutally forcing them into silence. Both sides of Ewan’s project, the deletion of existence and its stigmatization, grapple with the control of information due to supposed moral or political reprehensibility.

The exhibition at the Arthur Boskamp Foundation M.1 is Ruth Ewan’s first solo show in Germany and offers insight into her conceptual working strategies and the different media they employ.

curated by Katja Schroeder

Kindly supported by the British Council.



24. October 17–19 h Event

“Collateral Events, put together by Ruth Ewan”

5 pm, Reading: E. A. Poe, The Black Cat
6 pm, Silent Film: Hexen (Witches), 1922

2. October 17–19 h Paul Robeson – Here I Stand, 1999

“Collateral Events, put together by Ruth Ewan”


19. September 14:30–16:30 h Opening