My work is based around memory. The eternally malleable fiction we create, which is unknowable and irrevocable. Naturally, in doing so, this becomes my own representation of what has happened - what I believe is to have been. But in presenting it I must have altered and filtered it. Consciously or unconsciously I have controlled it. Presenting what I believe to be true, what I believe to be significant. Examining history does not provide answers but can recall its horrors. Karl Marx said that the past weighed upon the brains of the living like a nightmare. This re-examination often confuses, rarely clarifies and generally creates a new fiction. It has also been said that it is the use of being able to learn from the past that separates us from other animals. I guess the reality of the usefulness of memory lies somewhere between these two insubstantial expectations.
My work also revolves around books. Our special reverence and absorption with the contents of now, what appears to be, an increasingly obsolete form of communication. However they are not simply to be seen as examples of a dying art form but also as a personal and private object. One in which the viewer is included through the time it takes to pick up the book, look through it, touch its pages, feel its actual presence as an object. This also controls the amount of time available to view each page. Captivating, yet denying the viewer, as the book always returns to its original closed state.
This is taken one step further within the show as most of the books are presented under glass. Therefore completely contradicting their traditional purpose for existence; to inform and educate. Playing with the viewersí ability to touch, to take part.
It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. I also believe this is true of friends we make. Each friend somehow magnifying an aspect of our own personality (desired or not). Thus the work refers to the memories of these books and friends.
The onus lying very steadily upon the importance of the memory, as Ingmar Bergman wrote:
ëyou have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realise that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all...Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it we are nothing.í
The image and text remain highly personal, my own references, my own clues. This is the very contradiction of the work. The public representation of the private, and exclamation of the secret. How do you present such a thing to the world without somehow destroying its meaning in the process? That is what I continue to battle with. This lies between the very binding of the books, the spine of the work and is what continues to intrigue and excite me. The smaller books and boxes are predominantly made of genuine letters; each representing a memory shared (within the letters) with the person who actually sent it. Only we two will actually know what the letter was about, but they do provide clues; key words are the references.
Although highly personal, the work does wish to communicate something. Even if this is simply the unease and discomfort of reading someone elseís diary. It is there to make us question this personal space. The privacy we all yearn for, away from the continual visual bombardment of the ëmoderní world (t.v., images, film, advertising) yet we also have to face our own inner barrage. The way in which we think, we remember and we qualify, continues from second to second in a seemingly random cacophony of references. The work follows through this confusion, this seemingly uncontrolled state of clues and illusions, games and half-recalled images leading the viewer to try to translate the work into meaning with reference to themselves. Things they recognise, things they care about themselves. Sherrington wrote in 1940 that he imagined his mind as "an enchanted loom, weaving ever changing yet always meaningful patterns -weaving in effect, patterns of meaning." Isn't this what we try to do every day? Translate unmeaning irrelevant signs into personal significance?
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margaret adams | nur balkir | marion curle | julian davies | helen evans | beverlee foulkes | joe hewlett | j.m.quinn Copywrite © 1997 mfa university of newcastle-upon-tyne