How these powerful masks are helping combat veterans heal —

Art therapist Melissa Walker uses masks to allow service members with traumatic brain injuries to express their deepest emotions and experiences, helping them and their loved ones heal. Most people wear masks to obscure or change their identities. But through a unique art therapy program, veterans are using them to reveal truths — often painful…

via Gallery: How these powerful masks are helping combat veterans heal —


Irena Saława. The Guardian of Place of National Remembrance

Throughout her life Ms Irena Saława takes care of the World War I cemetery in the Nieprześnia village. There lie bodies of 123 fallen soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies. Together with her husband, 8 other people and a couple of horses, they built the graves with their own hands.

After years, she wrote a beautiful and poignant poem dedicated to a 22 year old soldier, who died ‘in hero’s death for the Fatherland’ on 10 December 1914 nearby  Sobolów village, one among many sites of a tragic warfare in present-day Lesser Poland Voivodeship.

Irena also shares  a memory of grand famine and great poverty she, her family and many others experienced during the war and post-war  times. She tells a short story about picking berries in the wood and hunting for a deer, which eventually passed into the hands of the landlord.

For her noble attitude and taking care for many years of the cemetery in Nieprześnia, she enjoys the recognition and gratitude of the Austrian Black Cross – Österreichisches Schwarzes Kreuz.

She has been also awarded by the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites with the Golden Medal of Guardian of Places of National Remembrance on the 100 anniversary of the cemetery and her 80th birthday.

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Production – Joanna Kowieska
Filming- Jakub Stoszek
Editing – Joanna Kowieska, Jakub Stoszek

David Szauder: Failed memories

David Szauder: Failed memories

David Szauder

I am inspired by the parallels I see between human memory and computer memory: our brains store away images to retrieve them later, like files stored away on a hard drive. But when we go back and try to re-access those memories, we may find them to be corrupted in some way.

When we see a picture we are able to remember the details, but only for a short period. In the long term we start to lose parts of the details and we fill the gaps with our self-generated memories instead of those lost fragments.

I always add a short narrative to each photo, which often allows to imagine why the subject’s appearance, and sometimes their mind, has been altered, like the glamorous woman driven to paranoia by the bubbles in her champagne.

David Szauder_Eva's glamour
Eva’s glamour

One day she wasn’t able to drink water anymore, just champagne. But from the bubbles she got paranoid.

David Szauder_mr and mrs sanday
mr and mrs sanday

Beautiful sunday with the sanday family. They were a young and solid pair, but the geometry of their feelings have been changed a lot during the years.

David Szauder_story of mr wolf
story of mr wolf

One day Mr Wolf wrote down too much numbers. When his memory was decoded the same numbers somehow modified his fragments.

David Szauder_Failed memories of Leo & Pipo
Failed memories of Leo & Pipo

French artists Leo&Pipo invited me to participate in their collaborative project. It is an honour, because they are making really amazing collages and a lot of elegant street art.

David Szauder_Failed Memories - new narratives_Oliver and the lost identity
Oliver and the lost identity

David Szauder (1976) is a hungarian media artist, living and working in Berlin since 2008. He creates computer code based digital images and interactive installations, curates exhibitions and works as an art director in various projects. Currently he is working at the Hungarian Culture Center in Berlin (CHB), giving lectures in Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf Potsdam and participating in various exhibitions.

David Szauder Gallery

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All pictures published with the Authors’ permission.

Memory of contaminated landscapes

Memory of contaminated landscapes

Eine kontaminierte Landschaft ist für mich eine Landschaft, die nach außen hin nichts Auffälliges aufweist, die aber etwas verbirgt. Plakativ gesprochen: Wenn ich beginne zu graben, kommt etwas zum Vorschein. Etwas wurde zugedeckt, das zu einem Teil der Landschaft wurde. Heute kann ich Landschaft kaum mehr unkontaminiert denken. Das ist nicht immer angenehm. Wo ich gehe und stehe, überlege ich oft: Hoffentlich verbirgt diese Landschaft nichts Schlimmes.

Martin Pollack

One day, during the regular cleanup work in the garden, Martin Pollack dug out a fork with an emblem of the Waffen-SS. Perhaps it was that moment he began to wonder what gruesome mysteries conceals a seemingly neutral landscape. Was the forest visible on the horizon seeded artificially to hide the crime scene? After drying a nearby drainage ditch, will the bones appear at the bottom? Such questions are not unreasonable when you live in Central Europe. Graves or monuments do not often appear at the places of mass murders. A lot of them is known by the local community only.

The Author claims about memory: social memory and memory of contaminated landscapes – silent witnesses and unwitting actors in the drama which had been played behind the curtain of a forest, a lake, a glen, a cave… From Slovenia to Latvia, from Austria to Russia Martin Pollack is tracking traces of past crimes and trying to figure out how to live today in areas that are camouflaged cemeteries.

“Contaminated landscapes” is an essay about the places of mass murder, carried out in secret, strictly confidential. Murders, after which traces were exterminated, hidden by planting trees, shrubs, flooding. The Author asks rhetorically several times: Do you know what hides the land where you live and which you cultivate? The place you are planting fruits and vegetables? Do you give the place of mass grave a wide berth or you simply don’t care?

Not only Central Europe can be treated as a great cemetery. We live on the remains of our ancestors and the remains of millions of animals and plants, which provide us energy for life. Many, like the Author, are shocked to discover mass murders and anonymous mass graves, but at the same time we tolerate utilization and killing of all non-human beings. Inconsistency, diplomatically speaking.

Dąbrówka Stępniewska


Modderwiese. Palimpsest of Memories

Modderwiese. Palimpsest of Memories

What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain? […] Everlasting layers of ideas, images and feelings, have fallen upon your brain softly as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet in reality not one has been extinguished.

Thomas de Quincey

Henryka Molenda and Julian Kaczmarek were born during World War II on the territory of the Second Polish Republic. Henryka was born in 1942 in Radowicze, within the Kovel district in Volyn region. Julian was born two years earlier, in Podborowo, within the Szamotuły district in the Poznań voivodeship.

Julian’s parents, along with their  five children, moved voluntarily from Podborowo to Grotów, erstwhile Modderwiese in Königreich Preußen / Deutsches Reich, Brandenburg (until 1938)/ Pommern (1938-1945), Kreis Friedeberg (Neumark). In accordance with the provisions of the Potsdam Conference 17.VII -2.VIII.1945,  Modderwiese came under Polish jurisdiction. Julian’s parents took over a house in Grotów after William Klaus. The lands transferred to the Polish State in 1945, were inhabited by approx. 3 million Germans and 1 million Poles. As a result of the war in 1944-1945 the majority of the German population left the western and northern areas of contemporary Poland.

Continue reading “Modderwiese. Palimpsest of Memories”

Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi

Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi

I feel that one of the most important contributions that I have to offer to the discussion about memory, torture, the relationship between terror and aesthetics, political violence, and survival, is to pick up the pieces and try to assemble the dark puzzle that is the legacy of the dictatorial period.

Quique Cruz

This beautifully crafted, poignant, and timely documentary explores the power of art to heal the trauma of torture. The film follows exiled Chilean musician Quique Cruz from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chile and back as he creates a multimedia installation and musical suite in an effort to heal the emotional wounds inflicted on him by the state-sponsored torture of the Pinochet regime.

Utilizing an innovative and compelling blend of documentary, performance, and interview sequences, Archeology of Memory accompanies Cruz as he visits former concentration camp sites and ruins and talks to his mother for the first time in 30 years about his Disappearance and incarceration. To give added depth to his story, he seeks out and receives testimony from other artists who were tortured in Chile. In these intimate conversations writer Nubia Becker, poet Anita Moreira, and painter Guillermo Nuñez relate their cruel experiences as political prisoners and show how their art has helped each to transcend their trauma.

The film’s musical score is an intricate element of its emotional resonance with viewers. The narrative follows the development of Cruz’s musical suite as he remembers his Disappearance, torture, and exile. His memories span the years from Salvador Allende’s Chile through the dark era following the U.S.-backed coup led by General Augusto Pinochet and right up to the present. The story climaxes at the infamous former Villa Grimaldi torture site in 2006, with the dedication by current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet of a theater where Cruz performs his suite for an audience of thousands at the place where he was once incarcerated and tortured.

This unforgettably powerful and engaging film opens a vital window of understanding on the repercussions of state-sponsored torture and disappearance of political prisoners. Many victims of torture want only to forget the past in order to live in the present. Because of this need to forget, their stories are often never disclosed, and the process of healing for them, their families, and their communities may be delayed for decades or even generations.

Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi will help bring transparency to this timely topic and provide a riveting context for thought, analysis, and discussion in a wide variety of courses in Latin and South American studies, human rights, Third-World studies, cultural anthropology, and the arts and music. The film is a co-production of Interfaze Educational Productions and the Independent Television Services (ITVS), in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is a film by Quique Cruz and Marilyn Mulford. It is in English and Spanish with English subtitles and English closed-captions. The DVD was fully authored by the producers.


Memories of the Munro Clan Castle Foulis

Memories of the Munro Clan Castle Foulis

Donna Munroe

We met Eleanor ‘Timmy’ Munro (90), matriarch of the Munro Clan and resident of Castle Foulis on September 4, 2015. She met us at the front door at the top of the ‘fighting steps’ to the castle, dressed in light blue slacks and a sweater vest. Her smile was warm as she extended her hand and introduced herself to us as Mrs. Munro. She laughed after I introduced myself. ‘Hi,’ I said, ‘I’m Mrs Munroe as well’! She had agreed to give us a personal tour of the castle over six months ago. We met first in her sitting room where she told us about the history of the castle, it’s owners, residents and lands. Shortly after we sat down I saw the door to the room slide open and around peaked a little dark haired boy, Hector. Hector is Mrs Munro’s five year old great grandson.

E Munro MBE badge
Eleanor Munro of Foulis

Much of the history is provided on the Munro Clan website (Short History of the Munros). However, she did tell us that she was born in Ireland and came to Inverness as a member of the Navy in WWII. She packed parachutes and through her work in Inverness she met many of the Munro clan, including her future husband – Patrick Munro. They lived in a house down the road from the castle (Ardullie Lodge) for most of their married life. When the castle needed their time and effort and money, they sold the house and moved into the castle. Through a series of efforts the castle was eventually put in trust by Hector W. Munro, a son. As such, he could not live there so she resides there and pays rent to the trust.

Hector, the Present Chief of the Clan Munro, has taken a big interest in the property, including the land around it. Among his efforts has been hiring geologists to examine a mound on the property. With carbon dating efforts as well as subterranean forensics they found pig bones and charcoal remnants 300 years old. But more excitingly they found 3 meters down, a circular structure with posts over 3,000 years old.*

Hector W. Munro of Foulis
Clan Chief: Hector W. Munro of Foulis

The photographs covering the top of the piano, and seemingly every other surface, was a signed picture of The Queen Mum (Elizabeth The Queen Mother 1900–2002). Mrs Munro and she were friends for over forty years. The Queen Mum would visit once each summer and stay for lunch which Mrs Munro  prepared.

Mrs Munro’s husband, Capt. Patrick Munro, had been held prisoner by the Nazis, having been captured with the queen’s nephew following the Battle of Dunkirk. It was through this friendship she met The Queen Mum. At these lunches Mrs Munro would serve 20 people, the Queen’s entourage. She also made sandwiches for the security team. That is until they asked politely if they might also have the lobster newberg she’d prepared for the royal guests. With some amusement she told us from then on she served the security team the same meal as the royal party enjoyed- which was, she said, easier! Three other Munro’s fought in Dunkirk, but only two survived. It was around that time the military sent the surviving  sons home saying the family had given enough.

The Castle is beautifully restored. The great room has ceilings at 14 foot high. There are family portraits everywhere. A sideboard hutch contains a custom dinner service made in China in the 1800’s with renderings of Castle Foulis and the Munro crest – as interpreted by the Chinese! Other artifacts included a glass decanter by a British firm, whistler (?) with the image of Castle Foulis etched inside.

Foulis Castle front
Foulis Castle. Seat of the Clan Munro

The dining room is on the opposite side of the house from the great room. She described features of a hutch from the 1800’s. On one side was a small cabinet which was said to contain a bowl the men used to relieve themselves while smoking and enjoying their after dinner drinks. She told us rather wryly that the women were in the drawing room at the time, having withdrawn from the dining room.

On our way to see the original kitchen on the first floor she showed us an exhibit of many tartans. She explained that it wasn’t until the 1800’s that clans became identified with a particular tartan. The pattern of the plaid and the sequence of color are unique to each clan. However the actual shade of red, blue, green etc is not.  So there are ‘traditional’ tartans, modern tartans and a french Munro tartan.

As we entered the kitchen we passed through a hallway much like the hall downstairs in the PBS program, Downton Abby. Along the wall just below the ceiling  were bells with labels to each room from which the Munro’s summoned the staff. The kitchen was just as you’d imagine in a castle – huge stones for the floor, large fireplace, wooden work table and a number of ancient tools. Mrs Munro told us about an earlier cook who covered the table in newspaper and then prepared the food on top of it. When done she’d toss the paper and never cleaned the table. When she was asked why, she said the rats run across the table at night and it was just easier to work on the paper and toss it afterwards. Mrs Munro described a large ceramic or clay jar stored under one counter which was used to store eggs. It was filled with water and some type of syrup. The eggs were immersed in the syrup and eaten all winter.

ring bells
Servants bells at Foulis Castle. Photo by Donna Munroe

Behind a door at the back of the kitchen was the biofuel installation. The castle has been converted from gas to biofuel heating not only the castle but several outbuildings.  Mrs. Munro was fully conversant in the use of the contemporary technology as it applied to her ancient home! The Castle is paid for each unit of heat generated which will help pay off the installation. Mrs Munro also shared with us that the family grows and harvests barley on some of the 900 acres around the castle. The heat from the biofuel installation will also be used to dry the barley before its goes to a distillery.

Foulis Castle garden
Foulis Castle, The Garden

Mrs Munro and her husband redid the garden behind the castle, installing a sun dial and building a stone frame around the well. She told us she preferred a relaxed, more casual design so her plantings are not formal or rigid – much as I found Mrs Munro, herself. But it is lovely with an iron gate and stone steps leading into the yard from the far end. She also opened a small door in a wall of the garden  to a vaulted stone room, which had tall narrow window openings ending in small ovals. She explained the windows were used to defend the castle when under attack. She told us that area of the castle probably goes back to the mid 1700’s when the original castle was built.

She was so proud of the Castle and its story. She and her husband devoted much of their lives, money and time to restore and preserve it.

*ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands) has been working at Foulis in summer 2011 and 2012 teaching volunteers new skills and trying to work out what the Foulis Mound is: a motte? a meeting place? a site of ritual burning?

topographic survey of Foulis Mound
Topographic Survey of Foulis Mound
Foulis Mound site plan
Highland Historic Environment Record showing location of mound and surrounding sites.

Foulis Estate, Excavation and Survey of Foulis Mound and a possible routeway Data Structure Report, Cathy MacIver and Cait McCullagh