Guest Editor: Dr. Orkideh Behrouzan
Konesh Editorial Team: Vanessa Lehmann & Saba Zavarei
noun: trace; plural noun: traces
a mark, object, or other indication of the existence or passing of something.
a very small quantity, especially one too small to be accurately measured.
a slight indication or barely discernible hint of something.
Hints from the past. References for an ever changing present. Spatial overlapping of different time spans. Stuttered flashes of what once was, or was not. Impossible to capture and incommensurable across temporalities. Their mutability manifests in their very definition and dependence on interpretation and perception. Stubborn and resilient and elusive at once, traces continue to confront and interrogate our relationship with both time and space.
In its material form, a trace can appear by adding a new layer onto another or through subtraction, the carving out and breaking off, taking a material layer away, thus marking presence through absence. Gluing posters on a billboard, gluing another and another on top of it, erasing pieces, scratching them off, while bits of the former remain, is an example of the layering of events, materials and practices. Our built as well as natural environments (as embedded forms in the Anthropocene) become in this way chronicles of the past; of the flow and change that took place here and gave shape to the lived space through building and ruining, social movements, everyday life, municipal policies and traffic regulations; adding another layer of concrete and bricks, bus stops and pavements, people and cars, images and stories onto the next. Each one with their histories, styles, practices and materials thus remain captured in the traces that they leave behind.
Materiality, however, is at times surpassed in traces; for traces become fundamentally sensory experiences. We are thrown into the depth of another bodily experience through a dash of light, a hint of a smell. We often trace traces through our senses. Sounds and smells and sights and touches ground us into their lives and ours. Traces become embodied and reconstructed in conscious and unconscious acts of remembering and forgetting. They often evoke a memory, itself a mutable entity, a continual process of remembering and forgetting and re-membering and re-making. Traces are thus impossible to capture, fixate, or describe in their entirety. They are evolving forms, ever receding and reviving, moving far and near, back and forth, ever changing, always in the making. Traces allow us to create new narratives and possibilities for re-writing the past and resisting hegemonic narratives of our histories. We become treasure hunters of traces through the stories they tell as well as those we tell, in fragments and pieces at times contradictory and at others incoherent. In our relationship with traces, we become them. They become our inseparable personal and political trajectories and desires; retrospective and prospective, looking back and forth in tandem, they/us demarcate narratives and plots. In searching and finding and stumbling upon them, we write and edit and imagine stories that make us; who we have once been, who we are to become. Our fantasies and desires are lived through traces of the past and the present at once. Traces are hardly mere remnants of static pasts. They are in the making. They point toward the future. They carry stories of peoples and places and times. What are those stories? Who tells them? What voices are legitimated and what voices muted?
How can we detect the big and small, noisy and quiet events of the past? How can we make them speak once again? How can we carve out spaces for voices and bodies that vanished, were muted, or were made to disappear? How can we represent traces? Can we ever?
In this issue of Konesh, we go on a search for these traces. In the pieces before you, authors find ways of surfacing hidden and sometimes mysterious stories, uncovering counter-narratives of the past in cities and beyond. Varying in style and approach, they allow for a re-engagement with heritage, story-telling, and archiving through maps, audio tours, videos, personal narratives, performances, and theoretical engagements. We thank our authors for their rich contributions to this issue and invite you to revel in their stories.
Dr. Orkideh Behrouzan, Vanessa Lehmann, Saba Zavarei