Gallery Four: Memory in Text


I have read extensively on the subject of memory and looked into many contemporary artists and writers’ work on the topic. Their work taught me how to think of the subject and how to communicate it through a visual medium.

‘….And suddenly memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumbs of madeleine….’
Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. YC.2007.a.4491

Sigmund Freud was one of the first to write that there are two modes of remembering: field and observer memories.

When you remember a scene from the past, do you see yourself in the scene? Or do you see the scene through your eyes, as if you were there and looking outward, rather than being an actual object in the image? The first one is a field memory and the latter is an observer memories.
Ender, Evelyne. Architexts of Memory: literature, science, and autobiography. m06/.11496

This got me thinking about my own style of work. For the majority of my pieces, I go back to the place where I used to belong and then often stage a self-portrait. This act of restaging and appearing in my own photograph is an act of observer memories. Therefore, this act is a reconstruction.

The idea of memory as “mental time travel” highlights something that is truly remarkable: as one remembers, we can free ourselves from the immediate constraints of time and space. We can experience the past and project ourselves into the future at will…

Try to remember, for instance, the following three events: a childhood birthday party; an incident from your first job; and the last thing you did before you went to bed last night. Within a matter of seconds, you have revisited parts of your past that are separated by years – perhaps decades - and you did not need any fancy equipment to take this journey.

These texts on memory are very interesting:

  • Schacter, Daniel L. Searching for memory, YC.1999.a.1629
  • Daniel, Noel (ed). Broken Screen: 26 Conversations with Doug Aitken: expanding the image breaking the narrative. YK2007.a.7095
  • Calle, Sophie. Sophie Calle: m’as-tu rue. YC.2007.a.7035
  • Marker, Chris. IMMEMORY. Vm04/50011 DSC This is a CD-ROM created by C. Marker, filmmaker, in 1996. It is a multimedia memoir exploring Marker’s own memories.

In many ways, this multimedia CD-ROM inspired the final outcome of my residency. After watching and listening to Marker’s collage of memory made up of sounds, photographs and travel notes, I decided that the work I had created during my residency would be displayed in the Library’s public spaces. Marker’s search and the execution of his ideas gave me a lot of confidence in my research and inspired me to create some of my new works.

He reminded me that your own memory is interchangeable with anyone’s memory, as long as you give enough codes for the viewer/listener to enable them to explore their own memories.

“What did you see?”,
I reply: “Let my eye speak for me”.
Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The People of Moscow Photographed and Introduced by H. Cartier-Bresson. 10292.t.29