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Rescuing memories
Olga Campassi
Art in Public Spheres

Rescuing memories

Join one story with another; create a link between one time and another time; memories are fragments of history. Documents are sources that connect us with different times and cultures. The purpose of this work is to consider those documents as important, their content helps us to understand history and create a new discourse.


Denn es ist ein unwiederbringliches Bild der Vergangenheit, das mit jeder Gegenwart zu verschwinden droht, die sich nicht als in ihm gemeint erkannte. [Walter Benjamin, Über den Begriff der Geschichte, 1940. S.131]

This is a project about coincidences that are linked to the river. I will rescue stories; stories that circulate orally, stories which were written down and the ones that can be found in archives. All of them are linked to the history of the river Reuss in Lucerne; a river that flows through the city forming the topography of the place through erosion and excavation; the stream generates and carries stories.

I am interested in translating these drifting tales and memoires. The original meaning of the word «translation » implies putting a thing in another place. From this I conclude that translating leaves space for interpretation and that’s where the storyteller comes in. In my roll as a narrator, I convey stories through various media such as written words and images. The storyteller is said to be a liar and a Nautisches Spiel in der Reuss, Olga Campassi 2014 50 Nautisches Spiel in der Reuss, Olga Campassi 2014 thief because he takes borrowed ideas and transforms them according to his imagination.

One could say that rescuing stories is like putting a bug into the memory files of a computer. The storyteller collaborates with time and space. If we consider that art is not solely in the object, but rather a translation made by the observer, then the work is a translation of a translation. From this perspective I think that the metaphor is essential in an allegorical sense. That concept of time as fluid provides the chance to make a polarity between the past and the present. The Pontonier-Sportverein Luzern was funded in 1885 and since 1972 they use their boat-house in Lochhof on the right side of the river Reuss. The rowing training takes place between the St. Karli bridge and the estuary of the river Emme. The sport of Pontoniers (rowing and manoeuvring on the water) has its beginning in the end of 19th century. In those days rafts men and boatmen transported people and goods on the rivers. The transport on rivers declined because the railway grid became denser and new river power stations disrupted the formerly effective transport ways. In army the Pontoniers are experts build floating bridges, so called Pontonbridges.

My work captures events that emerged from the river as they tried to escape our memories. By providing and displaying visual fragments I intend to generate a new and different significance to past events and stories; cut-out fragments, stolen from the flow of time.

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