Simon(e) van Saarloos: Take ‘Em Down

Scattered Monuments and Queer Forgetting

Who determines what is remembered and commemorated, and why? Slavery happened long ago, too long ago for apologies by the Dutch government, according to prime minister Mark Rutte. Neuroscientists investigate how past events influence lives today and call it ‘intergenerational trauma’. How can we commemorate something that is both in the past and a daily reality?

In Take ‘Em Down Simon(e) van Saarloos is inspired by the historically invisibilized lives of LGBT people and queers. They demonstrate the power of forgetting and wonder if and how it’s possible to live without a past. At the same time, Van Saarloos criticizes the way that a ‘white memory’ – including their own – treats some stories as self-evident while other histories are erased.

Take ‘Em Down questions the normative architectures of commemoration: if a minute of silence signals respect during a vigil, how do loud bodies perform proximity to the past? What if toppled statues become barriers for able-bodied folks, disrupting capitalist rhythms? Take ‘Em Down is not about reconciliation through guilt but about living messy lives with pain and grief.

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