HIDING PLACES: MEMORY IN THE ARTS
June - December 2011
Memory is embedded in everything around us—in our culture, beliefs, possessions, relationships—it is a central component of human nature. Memory’s reach can be lifelong or fleeting. We define ourselves through memory, yet it can deceive us when we are least prepared. We continually search for new and inventive ways to keep memory alive: creating, preserving, and sharing memories through Internet databases, oral and written accounts, and visual records. All of this is in an attempt to keep memory out of the mind’s deep hiding places—to master time, hang on to things we no longer possess, and share recollections we hold dear. Many fear losing their memory, while others long to forget.
Because memory is a broad and inclusive topic, it is divided into four thematic components: From Memory, Holding Memory, Forget Memory, and Shared Memory. The exhibition and accompanying book will delve deeply into each of the four areas. Artists involved in other programming areas—Performing Arts, Connecting Communities, and Education—will dovetail with the four components in various ways. The profusely illustrated book will include original writings by the exhibition’s curators and prominent scholars with expertise in savant syndrome, age and community, American culture, and art history.
Artists featured in this section call on their capacity to remember to make their art. They record the world with uncanny precision. Some are endowed with so-called photographic memory, while others feel compelled to explore the depths of memory without the aid of this particular mental facility. They share an impulse to catalog objects, people, and ideas in a visual manner, effectively releasing these thoughts from the mind so they may exist as external memory banks.
Intangible memories are captured in tangible objects in this section of the project. Objects have long been recognized as containers of memory, vessels that manifest the timeless importance of commemorating life.
Personally touched by the effects of memory loss, a number of artists confront the topic of dementia. In innovative and precedent-setting ways, they seek to maintain a connection with loved ones who no longer remember. This section of the exhibition features just two artists, both of whom will create expansive, site-specific, and multifaceted installations that mirror the complexities of the mind itself.
Each of us recalls events large and small with great clarity: a first movie at the theater; the championship game won or lost; or the precise moment of a national tragedy. Whether these events are experienced with family, community, amongst cultural groups, or as an entire nation, our personal memories become interwoven with those of others, creating a variegated but converging terrain of shared memory. This section of the exhibition explores this powerful, shifting, and emotional territory.