Multi-media Lecture

Memory Theatre

Maksym Rokmaniko, Center for Spatial Technologies
Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture/Forensis

The image shows a digital reconstruction of the destroyed theater in Mariupol and its park-like surroundings. Some sketches of places and walking routes are drawn by hand over the image.

Memory Theatre © Courtesy of the Center of Spatial Technologies

The bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre on 16 March 2022, in the early weeks of the Russian invasion, was one of worst atrocities against civilians committed by the occupying forces. But what was destroyed there, and in the following months, was not only the fabric of a theatre building. Up to two thousand civilians found shelter in the building and turned it into an architectural-scale city with places for debate, shelter, and mutual care. Until the machinery of the Russian occupiers bulldozed it, the building was also evidence of a grave war crime.

The latest joint investigation by the Kyiv-based Center for Spatial Technologies and the Berlin-based Forensis explores the three weeks between the start of the Russian full-scale invasion and the airstrike of 16 March. During this time, the theatre became a self-organised commune and an act of resistance: a “City Inside a Building”. The lecture narrates the building‘s history as a historical site of cultural identity. Through hours-long interviews with survivors of the attack, the life-world of the theatre is painstakingly reassembled while the evolving interactions between memory, space, and trauma are sensitively explored.

Taking this collaborative work as a starting point, Weizman and Rokmaniko will explore the tensions between evidence and testimony through what the agencies call “situated testimony”, where witnesses design and walk through a three-dimensional model of the building. The lecture will also address the nature of their collaborative investigative practice, developed through Forensic Architecture, which supported this investigation, the practices and difficulties of preserving evidence in wartime, and the complexities of working, investigating, and interviewing under the shadow of conflict.

“Memory Theatre” is part of the festival “Performing Exiles” by Berliner Festspiele.Research support by Forensis and Forensic Architecture.
Project support by The Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia” and Porticus