Memory: Artists' Statements
Craig Deppen Auge
Teeth (Deja Vu) visually interprets a certain feeling, that peculiar sense of having experienced something before, while at the same time feeling extremely present. Deja vu is usually pleasant, but can also be unnerving. Teeth not only symbolize the passage of time, growth and change, but reference the physical dimension of these sense memories, and the potential sharpness of that ephemeral sensation. Layers of scratched paint, tape ink transfer, cut canvas and transparent bubbles on weathered wood formally explore time, memory and it's relation to physical and illusory realms.
I make paintings dealing with issues of personal history, fantasy and gender-identification. Collaged from multiple different source images, these works evolve in response to the photographic surfaces they’re constructed upon. Much of my painting process seeks to consider the contextual history of the original image and how that compares to my own relationship with / memory of it - whether that’s a photograph of a composition of objects in my studio or a found Google-image result.
These works in particular highlight a preoccupation with vehicles of glamour and the frameworks they occupy. My process involves the reconstitution of these frameworks through deconstruction, abstraction and disorienting juxtapositions. I employ editorial fashion photography, cosmetics, glitter and gloss in an attempt to isolate and harness their seductive quality. Buried in painted fields, this appropriated source material lends itself to building a queer vocabulary of perverse associations.
I’m exploring the perceived objectivity associated with photography by pitting it against my expressive mark-making language, mirroring the oppositional forces of these media as analogous to that of nature and culture as subjects. In this way, my process of painting oscillates between revealing and concealing fragments of photographic information. Whether covered completely or leaving enough information to glean its past significance, paint functions as a variable application of context for these otherwise decontextualized images. In many ways, these paintings serve as projections of psychic spaces for these images to occupy, providing peek-a-boo glimpses into inner convulsions.
I sat for an hour a day for two weeks recording the contours of a single plant. Each day, I would erase the drawing from the day previous, beginning the new drawing over the memory of the old. Through this process, the paper became embedded with time, forming an image from the residue of past images.
Muted color and a compressed palette imply weathering or obscuring of a once vibrant image. The impression left after the vivid sensation has ceased.
Every song has a memory; every song has the ability to make or break your heart, shut down the heart, and open your eyes. But I’m afraid if you look at a thing long enough; it loses all of its meaning. –Andy Warhol
This photograph exists as part of a larger body titled Mise en Abyme. This body of work explores the understanding of memory, and the ability of objects, experience, and sound to trigger a past that no longer exists but is made real through recollection, deja-vu, or the dreamscape.
Actions exist for a second, and then disappear– we are left without trace, only the repercussions. Memory is an action twice removed: the act of recalling an action. The nostalgia that I explore is nostalgia without antecedent– an attempt to understand the past, or to recreate it, as simulacrum.
Rochelle (Rocki) Brickner
Just as each individual in a family unit performs a role to keep the family in balance or otherwise (and unfortunately) dysfunctional, each species of fungi plays a crucial role in the processes supporting the functioning of major ecosystems. Fungi exist in every terrestrial and many aquatic ecosystems, decomposing dead organic matter to release nutrients, supporting plant life on poor soils by improving the absorption of nutrients, living inside plants as endophytes and forming symbiotic partnerships with algae and lichen forms. Sometimes they exist as parasites, thriving on a host and eventually killing it.
My inspiration for mimicking the harmony and discord of the fungi species within their natural environment this past year shifted from wonderment, and more recently became personal during the exit of a toxic family dynamic. While processing sixteen years of memories, joyous and painful, at first I related to a coniferous tree being infected with armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungi, causing mortality, wood decay, and growth reduction; infecting and killing trees that have been already weakened in various ways. Yet as time pursues, dead organic matter in my life consistently decomposes, followed by the slow but sure growth of new life amidst rich soil. And so, I know now that I have evolved and I will survive.
The retention of memory in the area of sexuality is fraught with heady physical recollections, emotional question marks, desperate attempts at committing or suppressing details, and most reliably of all, inconsistencies. At the sexual cores of our human nature, each of us can recall experiences we wished would never end, feelings of elation and unprecedented pleasure, and the deepest wish for these feelings to never fade. Many of us can also relate to wanting nothing more than to forget: an unwanted touch, an unkind accusation, a regretful or traumatic experience. Rarely do we achieve either desire completely.
Larger in scale than is typical of my work, my piece seeks to remember and reinterpret the fragmented, and in this case, literally dismembered recollection and emotional impact of a series of intimate moments. My interest in depicting the many facets of human, and more specifically female, sexuality, continues to evolve as the explicitness of my subject matter becomes abstracted and the diversity of my techniques expands. Drawing from explicit and even unabashedly pornographic imagery, I seek to reinterpret and reclaim the sexual experience through the lens of a waxing and waning memory -- to visually interpret the shared experience of trying to recall the details of an act that can never fully be recreated in physicality nor in emotion, and the confusion of trying to put together the pieces of that which we were sure we would never forget. The fickleness of memory even in the face of love or trauma is an inconvenient fact of life with which we all must contend.
Suburbs is a series of photographs of the ordinary surreal in the suburbs of Kansas City. I grew up in the area, but after some time away for college and travel, I came back to find that things I once saw as commonplace now seem strange – I hope to capture some of that feeling in these images.
Memory is often about stories, smells, sensations... the actual images from our past seem to distort and fade quickly from our minds. The photographs in this series are not replicas of lost images – they are collected from walking and driving the same loops over and over for decades, photographing familiar landscapes, and connecting them loosely to the web of my own memories. In this way they are part of a personal narrative, but they are also easily adaptable to the viewer's memories, if they have spent time in any American suburb.
For a number of years, I lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle. This led to viewing experience as deeply connected to ever-changing and varied landscape. When I returned to a more settled lifestyle and re-entered my studio practice, I drew on memories of my travels for inspiration. The creative process serves as a vehicle to re-interpret my experiences. The act of abstraction and the process of creating abstracted work is, for me, directly
linked to certain subconsciously driven aims. Often, these aims are mysterious to me and can be accessed most directly through the repetitive, meditative act of drawing.
In scientific terms, to look upon an image is to access your long-term memory, triggering whatever associations you have with the word, the name, or the meaning. The brain is just a muscle working at a million miles per hour recalling the layers of associations as much as it can. The memories are jumbled until you focus on the one that is the most important or relevant. My work is derived from that recollection and the early ink blot tests developed in the 1920s. It taps into our animalistic reactions, which tended to be labeled as mental illnesses - especially for women who commonly were diagnosed with hysteria, insanity, or any mental illness.
Like ink blots, where each individual can interpret the images different, my pieces also illustrate a forced imagery of animals that has no right answers in meaning, reminding us of the similarities we might have with them, and causing us to wonder what about them or ourselves are not so different. All the pieces try to evoke the idea of memory in our deepest, darkest part of our brain, maybe not even one we want to share. The need to fly like a bird, to run away, to be risqué, to fear… All of the emotions that forces us to look into our past, our memory, and our nightmares: and our primal ideas that they may trigger, and overall, make us question what it is to be sane.
MRIs and metaphysics are the inspirational basis for these works on paper. Medical scans of the brain are visual puzzles to me. Full of shadowy blobs and indefinite forms, they are used as a photographic document of the contents of the human skull. In my work, I embellish and exaggerate the imagery to give visual representation of the intangible contents: ideas, memories, emotions and beliefs. They are not meant to be directly illustrative, but a hopeful exploration of possibilities, and perhaps wishful thinking. Care-taking for my mother with Alzheimers has pulled me deeply into the project. Emotionally involved, I seek to directly influence what is happening in her brain. Not being able to physically reach into her head, I use my imagination to show neurons firing and expanding. I show the mind energizing and evolving into something more than its gray dying matter. I chose to render the images with gold and silver as if the head and its contents were religious icons. I acknowledge that this body of work touches on spirituality and faith, although I do not consider myself a member of any specific religion. The mind and its memories are the sum of ourselves, and thus as individually precious as any deity on a pedestal.
My work relates to the theme “Memory” because it primarily focuses on my experiences growing up and the surroundings of rural Minnesota. The source for the narratives I create in my figurative paintings all come from my own memories of being in the homes of family members, lounging around in my childhood bedroom, and the vulnerabilities and insecurities of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood. With my still life work I am drawing from art historical references and recreating them through my own lense and intuitions with painting. By doing this I am creating a direct relationship between myself and past painters, more specifically, Dutch painters of the Golden Age.
My light boxes explore the way in which memories fade in and out of focus. Offering a participatory experience, these kinetic sculptures invite viewers to operate the work via a hand-crank. Utilizing multiple light sources the mechanism projects overlapping shadows and ghostly after-images onto a translucent veil. These visual effects mirror the way that images and ideas advance and recede and morph together through the act of recalling information.
The photographs I am submitting for this exhibition invite viewers to use their imaginations to complete the picture. In the image titled “Bacon” the subject has been stripped of its original colors in order to invite a range of interpretations. Our memories evolve when the mind colors in the parts that have faded. Through this process we generate new thoughts and ideas.
The photographs I am submitting for this exhibition invite viewers to use their imaginations to complete the picture. In the photograph titled “Window” textured glass obscures the view to the outside leaving it to the viewer to define what lies beyond.
Judith G. Levy
The World Outside and The Pictures in my Head
I am creating my own film stills from Noir and WW II movies that I first saw on television as a child/adolescent growing up in the suburbs of New York City. The title of my project, The World Outside and The Pictures in my Head, is borrowed from the journalist and critic Walter Lippmann. Lippmann wrote, “how indirectly we know the environment in which nevertheless we live”, and “that whatever we believe to be a true picture, we treat as if it were the environment itself”.
In addition to home and school environs, the significant influences that informed and shaped my child and adolescent world-view were the environments I experienced by viewing these films daily, starting at about age eight. I am now re-visiting the films I saw, such as “Dark Passage”, “Cry Danger”, “No Man of Her Own”, “A Walk in the Sun”, or Battleground, and I am using my I-phone to photograph the way my eyes viewed details of scenes, as I watched them move across the screen. From the many hundreds of 4 x 6 inch prints that I produce, I digitally create collages, each comprised of portions of various films whose images had been embedded in my memory. While I watched narratives about the destruction of Europe, complicated love affairs, ambivalent heroes, femme fatales and refugees of the Holocaust, my own identity was developing. I learned about romance, loneliness, injustice, cruelty, power, suffering, passion, fear and war, and these topics are ones I frequently explore today, often in historical contexts.
Taking a second look at these films and making my own collaged “stills” mimics the queer perspective I had as a child who did not view the world through a hetero-normative lens. By utilizing contemporary technology, I collapse the temporal distance between present and past. This process of appropriation, re-signification and re-contextualization creates a queer aesthetic that includes abstraction as well as narrative imagery that is not overtly LGBTQI.
The Man Who Thinks About The Past So Much, He Forgot The Present.
This painting is a story of a man who is stuck in the past and riddled with regret. Self doubt has paralyzed him, and yet there is still beauty behind the eyes. As I was painting to tell this story I realized how it's really about me and not the man. Living in the past is not a unique human experience. Rather, it is universal. Memories, both good and bad, can be traps.
The cast now ghosts of school plays and assemblies-past; wafting in the wings, birds layering songs on this little theater of memory.
We last minute decided to go camping, so we could watch the blood moon. I was already feeling stressed because of last minute planning and you were just trying to get there to set things up before night fall. We both didn’t handle the situation correctly, but we tried to make the most of it. We had boughten some Colt 45s to drink and set up our lawn chairs near the lake. You sat and watched while I walked off and photographed stuff, pretty typical throughout our relationship. I don’t think I would trade that moment sitting next to you watching the blood moon eclipse next to the lake for anything. By the time the eclipse had fully passed I was drunk and didn’t feel like bringing the lawn chairs back in, so I just left them until the morning. See nothing happened to them like you thought would.
“Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps, dogmas, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because our sense of what is the case is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to death.”
Salman Rushdie, from Imaginary Homelands
Homespaces , is a collage based series, documenting fragmented memory through photographed space. Through the deconstructing of photos from past homes, new homes and spaces have been created. This series is an autobiographical response to the displacement attached to my childhood homes. Fighting to find meaning and placement through the recreation of new homes. Speaking about memories in spaces, but finding comfort in its fragmentation and displacement. The collages have old photos from family albums, all depicting six different living spaces from my childhood. Including, a home in Mexico city, before my family and I moved to the United States. This series is specific to memory, place, belonging, and culture. Dealing with abrupt dislocation, to living spaces. Through collaging, I have created imaginary homes that at some point have become real in my mind.
This piece is one of a series of portraits of my family and our relationships. I incorporate sashiko embroidery to create another layer within the embossed and printed handmade paper, forming a patterned frame around the abstract subjects. I have started focusing on femininity and female sibling relationships and the role hair has within all of these subjects. The linear qualities of hair as well as the red embroidery help create a visual tie between the personal and abstract qualities of familial ties, bloodlines, and to the physical body. The hair, meaning such different things detached compared to when it is attached to the body, becomes it’s own entity, character, and timeline as I use it to represent the women in my family and the memories we share of our life together. Hair represents who we are not only in a scientific level but in an abstract sense as well through status and identity.
At the foundation of my practice is a passion for understanding and reacting to my place in the world. I reflect on the way that digital realms have transformed humanities world view and absorption of information. In a society consumed with virtual reality I often wonder where the appreciation for hand made art lay. My polymer clay sculptural paintings attempt to attract the attention of a culture transformed by technology and media. Memory has to do with repeated use; when people started watching black and white television it resulted in black and white dreams so theres is no doubt that the whirling, brightly colored, information rich orb of the internet has transformed our collective memory, inner landscapes, and art.
My series of slab paintings are about the size and feel of a tablet computer and are just as seductive to hold as one. The polymer clay paintings function much like a Rosetta Stone tablet, they speak a cryptic language of a culture mastering matter. As a ceramic artist I have always sought after the most colorful plastic clay which has lead me to use porcelain and polymer clay. I am most excited about polymer clay because it acts as a medium between clay and paint. In order to make an image in polymer clay one must think about it three dimensionally, build it, and slice it much like the process of murine caning in glass or candy making. These clay processes are the records and fossils of my thoughts, experiences, and memories.
petit four stela is an example from a series of works inspired by food imagery. Here we have an intersected layer cake set upright in a landscape, like a standing stone. Information is presented in the form of pattern and texture, much like an ancient stela communicating an epitaph. This commemorative slab asks the viewer to focus on the memory of an unknown and bygone subject.
altar of red & white also belongs to my food series. The structure in this image is reserved for ritualistic sacrifice. This altar of beef cuts (sacrifices in their own right) dominates the civilization in evidence throughout the painting. Little hovels, rope ladders, and firelight dot the landscape and ascend into the sky. Upon further inspection, the fantastical nature of this environment becomes apparent. Matter and space bend, scale shifts wildly. It's a mythological mountain. This unreal location is a fabricated memory, a story to tell the children.
the bower is an unusual painting for me in that it's essentially a self-portrait. It mimics the structures and collected trinkets of the Vogelkop bowerbirds of Western New Guinea. I found the hutch a suitable stand-in for my physical person - an earthy, unobtrusive bower. The painting relies heavily on personally-assigned symbolism. The collections found in the underground caverns are my ideas, preferences, elements of support, scars, and memories.