Various locations in Namibia and Germany, (2008–ongoing). Video and photographic installation.
Visual records of place remain to a large degree inadequate when making visible the ephemeral states of consciousness that underlie past histories and conflict, let alone the extraordinary histories and power structures encoded in particular images and views. A country’s identity is a multiplicity of competing and contested memories that are constantly being revised in the present.
In Changing Histories, the artist brings together snapshots of diverse commemorative sites largely related to the Namibian-German War and colonial Genocide, primarily taken in Namibia, but also in Germany. Brandt also documents landscapes of trauma – or historical reckoning – where no physical memorial can be found. As Brandt documents these existing and emerging locations and monuments, different relationships come to the fore. The series oscillates between the past and the contemporary moment, disclosing the power dynamics of knowledge production and memory-making in Namibia and Germany, as well as the contemporary symbolism related to both. Some works provide telling examples of how states often function as arbiters of public memory.
In contrast, Brandt both sources and creates existing and new ‘counter-memorials’ of related histories. Through her documentary and performance strategies, she uncovers and tries to intervene in the perception of these hegemonic systems of memory brokerage. This cross-referencing of memory between conventional and alternative sites exposes multiple versions of history-telling.