For our last session this week, we will be sharing personal work produced in response to the course ( subject of another blog post) and in thinking about that , I've reviewed the themes and ideas that most resonated with me.
Week 1 ‘ Art and Oblivion’ In the first session we introduced ourselves and looked at types of memory : semantic, personal, involuntary, procedural, cultural, collective, shared.
The readings were : Jorge Luis Borges ‘Funes the Magnificant’ )A young man who could reconstruct every moment lived or dreamt , spending so much time minutely reliving the past , looking backwards,no time to observe or be in the present ) and Marc Auge ‘ How we forget to remember’
Rachel Whiteread ‘ House’
Cornelia Parker Mnemic Traces ( memories found in objects that hold evidence of what the object has lived through ) ‘ subconscious of a monument 2005’ Room for
Margins 1999 . Some of this work I was lucky enough to see at the Whitworth gallery in 2015
'If we remembered everything could we make sense of anything?'
Week 2 'Haunted - involuntary memory '
We looked at the ways in which memories are triggered, what is it that causes the ghosts of our past to suddenly appear? Readings were from Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’( ‘The way by Swanns’ translators intro and extract) and we shared our ‘ Madeline Moments’!
My memory to do with feel of fabrics and threads. I still have scraps from childhood dresses and wear a fabric mask made from fabric from one of my mum’s dresses. She’s still protecting me.
Artists looked at included Tracey Emin ‘ Why I never became a Dancer ‘ ( an approach to ‘ recovered’ memory in visual arts ) and Mike Kelley ( composite architectural models of all his school/ colleges constructed from memory
Our homework - to map spatial memory, quick floor plan of childhood home/ school or familiar building from childhood' Childhood Home'
We moved into a new build in 1964 ( when I was 3) . From 1979 when I went to university only visited for short periods until 1995 when Dad died and the house was sold. Revisiting in 2010 with Ian who was seeing it for the first time, they’d made substantial improvements , my old bedroom knocked through to make new bathroom etc it looked so different. The owner still remembered my mum on her Pashley tricycle with ‘ wide load' ‘ sign on basket from more than 20 years earlier.
Week 3 'Collective Memory'
This session explored collective and cultural memory with discussion of readings :Introduction and essay by
Maurice Halbwachs from The Collective Memory Reader and David Rieff, In Praise
Artists/ Artworks included : Cornelia Parker 'Magna Carta ( an embroidery) 2015', 'War Room 2015'
Ai Weiwei Dropping a 'Han Dynasty Urn 1995' ‘ Straight’ 2005- 2012 ( both of which I saw at RA exhibition.
Week 4 'Mediated memory' focused on photography as a medium of memory storage, and exchange – as well as questioning the reliability of our memory when shared with others or filtered through other Readings were : Susan Sontag on Photography; extracts from Mediated Memories in the Digital Age by Van Dijck - ( Pictures of Life, Living Pictures ) and a wonderful extract from Esther Kinsky's ' River' ( I ordered and am now reading the whole book !) A lot of the discussions were about authenticity.
Artists included Gerhard Richter and Christian Boltanski: sharing’ autographic’ memories. I particularly liked work of Idris Khan , every page of Roland Barthes 'Camera Lucida ' superimposed , illegible.
Our homework was sharing a photo ' Seeing/seeing yourself through the eyes of others' . I chose and sent photos before reading the texts ! ‘ The Day of Bees' July 17 2020. I also had ideas around ‘ memory storage' : crates of slides and packets of photos in garage , not looked at in 15 years ! Many people are spending lockdown sorting through old photos: like ‘ Funes the Magnificent’ I feel that if I started doing that there wouldn’t be any time for experiencing the present.' Day of Bees'
Week 5 ‘ Momento Mori’ ( remember you must die )
Readings: Chapter 10 of Gulliver's Travels; describing a race of immortals ( Struldbrugs ) living among the mortal. Lucretius 'On the Nature of Things'; an extract from 'An Introduction to Heidegger' ( Dasien's awareness of mortality)
Art works were mainly video/film : Mark Wallinger ‘ Threshold to the Kingdom’ 2000
The subject was challenging and might seem morbid (especially in the times we're living in ) but ultimately
life affirming, in accepting mortality, to make the most of life as you don’t know when you will die.
Lucretius : "Life
is granted to none for freehold, to all