Anoshirvanis work The last memory before the silence can be understood as a comment on the non-linearity of life and the role of family history both in the individual’s present and within a greater historical context. The work is about a golden ring, an item of great sentimental value to her mother. Both as a concrete personal artifact and as symbol for eternity, renewal and the endless circle of life, it bears witness to the families relocation from Iran to Sweden with the emotional luggage the family carries and a moment in time that almost fell into oblivion. Instead of meeting the ring, we are confronted with empty jewelry boxes and visual details of the ring. While the emptiness of the boxes echo an emptiness of heritage, a feeling of longing and the potential for a heritage yet to be built, the details of the ring convey a reinforced sense of fragmentation regarding heritage and memory in the act of gathering the leads on one's past.

Malmö is a city marked by debates and border control policies regarding refugees. Anoshirvani was reminded of the ring and the journey she did with her family as a child. In order to avoid theft or confiscation her mother had hidden the ring in her ear during this journey. As she told her mother about this memory, she learned that the ring had been a present her mother had given to herself when Shiva was born. Her mother had bought it at a local jeweler who then referred to Shiva with the name “Tala”, a girl’s name meaning gold in Farsi. As the new life overwrote the former, overshadowed memories and brought forth a gap in the family's history, gold came to equal silence. It was almost like a mnemonic hard drive with a password you forgot.

With reference to Walter Benjamin’s Thesis of politics of History one could say that the arrested memory of Anoshirvani’s mother on the journey in conjunction with the current refugee crisis was the instance that gave access to a writing of history. In its arrested nature this memory preserved, elevated and also canceled out the historic context and course of history, while making a claim both on history and future because of the sense of a lack: Anoshirvani remembered this moment in time because it stands for the gap between the two lives, for the difficulties on their journey and her ignorance to the motivation of her mother bringing this ring along.
The memory of a hidden item of sentimental value showed Anoshirvani what had been hidden and missing from her heritage. In coherence with how feminist theorist Mary Kelly compares our heritage with an archive that makes the past and our origin mappable and navigable as imaginary topography in the present, Anoshirvani not only reconciles with her fragmented family history. She is also able to view current political events through the lenses of an object she found in her memory archive. The work hence asks us when and how we recuperate parts of our identity from the past and how the individual sense of belonging is linked with society at large.

Kristina Lindemann

Foto: Elin Aldén