FORTHCOMING 57th VENICE BIENNALE (May 13- 26 November 2017):
Memory Theatre: video 40 mins, colour, is being exhibited at the European Cultural Centre, Palazzo Mora, Venice: an official collateral event curated by the Global Art Affairs Foundation, Venice, Italy.
‘I was dying. That much was certain. The rest is fiction.’ 1
Recurring themes in my conceptual practice are memory and memorial and fragment and trace. The idea of the trace as a mark that has barely been made or that may disappear, and asks was something there, and was something left behind? This involves the pursuit of that which is apparently elusive; not necessarily in order to achieve a goal at the end but to consider the thing that cannot be held. The work is underpinned by my philosophical inquiry into the concept of the fragment especially as suggested by Frederich Schlegel who posited a radical recasting of the concept as a dynamic form of creative practice which aims at fragmentation for its own sake. This essential incompletion is itself a mode of fulfilment in which the idea achieves itself and constitutes the ‘properly’ romantic vision of the system in which totality is both finite and plural at the same time. Thus, the fragment is a dynamic process of thinking that is both self-defined and simultaneously defining itself and which opens up questions about the relation between the finite and infinite, unity and chaos.
My own use of the fragment acknowledges and explores the partial nature of the fragment as a shard of memory oscillating between past and present. The work questions time, space and existence through an enquiry into what is memory and how might it function and be represented. Central to this, is the question of how is time in itself memorial and memory?
Drawing on my personal experience of sudden and traumatic loss and widowhood, my performances for video generally involve the enactment of completely pointless tasks such as measuring the water in the sea with buckets. Seemingly endless repetition emphasises the absurdity of these activities. Nevertheless they are acts of inward keening and meditation which bring memories to consciousness. Such performative work evokes also a kind of yearning and searching. Psychologists Parkes and Maclejewski allude to a tendency of ceaseless journeying by the bereaved; suggesting also a sense of boundlessness and a world without (national) borders.
I work on the move in outdoor locations. I travel extensively, notably in Central Asia, including by motor car from the UK to Azerbaijan return, exploring the phenomenology of travel and liminal spaces on the move. 2 Encounters with the sensorimotor dimensions of performative processes and shifts from the geographic and scenic to the emotional and psychic space of locations and situations occur.
We discover things visually by moving our body in our surroundings and location. This haptic/kinaesthetic perception involves apprehending different aspects of our body sequentially as we move along. This is a form of orienteering and mapping; feeling (literally) one’s way through the darkness and ‘fog’ of bereavement.
All deaths presage other deaths and as the widow awaits her own, she traces with infinite futility and pointlessness, the finitude of human existence.
1. Simon Critchley, Memory Theatre: ( Fitzcarraldo, Editions, London, England 2014) p.7.
2. Image of the Road: with Simon Pruciak: ongoing.