Memory Palace
Jul 11  – Sep 15, 2018

Magnus Plessen, Untitled (38), 2017

Memory Palace is a major group exhibition extending across White Cube’s London galleries in Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard.

Featuring more than 90 recent works by over 40 artists, Memory Palace seeks to inspire reflections on the forms and themes of memory. The exhibition’s architecture leads the viewer through six aspects of memory: Historical (at White Cube Mason’s Yard), Autobiographical, Traces, Transcription, Collective and Sensory (at White Cube Bermondsey).

 

Anselm Kiefer / Installation, Memory Palace, White Cube

Installation, Memory Palace / White Cube

Historical

Featuring Michael Armitage, Georg Baselitz, Theaster Gates, Mona Hatoum, Anselm Kiefer, Ibrahim Mahama, Julie Mehretu, Magnus Plessen and Doris Salcedo.

“History is written by the victors.” What a culture chooses to memorialize is bound up with the prevailing hegemony: contemporary historians have begun to privilege memory in the form of personal testimonies and oral histories as a corrective to the narrative of power. Shared histories of suffering can drive retribution and sustain irreconcilable feuds; the burden of memory may keep psychological wounds from healing. Yet it is in their common memories that peoples scattered by forced migration, or decimated by genocide, may preserve their identity. Artists have an important role in voicing silenced or contested memories, while art’s ability to collapse historical time allows us a fresh perspective on the sweep of history.

 

Installation, Memory Palace / White Cube

Etel Adnan, Blue Path, 2018

Autobiographical

Featuring Franz Ackermann, Etel Adnan, Georg Baselitz, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Magnus Plessen, Raqib Shaw, Christine Ay Tjoe and Liu Wei.

As history began to be defined as a discipline, so the sense grew that memory was subjective and concerned with the inner life. During the Enlightenment and Romantic period, the concept of memory emerged as something personal and bound up with identity. In modern times, mass media forms such as reality TV, exposés and chat shows have made ubiquitous the disclosure of personal histories. Art is an ideal medium for the intimate and confessional, lending itself to diaristic and autobiographical forms. As these artists show, all experience can be manifest in art, whether captured in the moment or recollected in tranquillity.

 

Ibrahim Mahama

He Xiangyu, My Feet (160506), 2016 / Cavity, 2015

Traces

Featuring Darren Almond, Miroslaw Balka, Antony Gormley, Andreas Gursky, David Hammons, Mona Hatoum, Runa Islam, Rachel Kneebone, Ibrahim Mahama, Virginia Overton, Jeff Wall and He Xiangyu.

We can think of an artwork as a memory of the gestures or actions that produced it: the record of a line, a brushstroke, a thumb in wet clay. In a cast, an impression or a print, a memory is anchored through an indexical relationship with the subject: the artwork and that which it has touched. In its inception, photography was also felt to have a direct existential relationship with the subject, a quasi-magical capturing of the essence. Now, in our digital age, it is perceived as unreliable and easily manipulated: just as our understanding has grown that memory can be false, unreliable or partial.

 

Cerith Wyn Evans

Jessica Rankin

Transcription

Featuring Cerith Wyn Evans, Christian Marclay, Harland Miller, Sarah Morris, Eddie Peake and Jessica Rankin.

The Memory Palace technique develops the skill of committing to memory without making an external record. However, the idea of memory has been indivisible from the means of recording it since Plato defined the concept using the metaphor of memory as a wax tablet. As memory is equated with inscription, so too is forgetting with erasure. Transcribing memories is a means of sharing them, and of declaring them, whether in the form of an inscription on stone or a graffiti tag. These artists use text in a variety of ways and show how other forms of notation can record the memory of sound or movement.

 

Elad Lassry

Elad Lassry

Collective

Featuring Sergej Jensen, Elad Lassry, Jac Leirner, Christian Marclay, Josiah McElheny, Beatriz Milhazes, Gabriel Orozco, Damián Ortego, Haim Steinbach and Fred Tomaselli.

The material world offers a vital framework for the formation of collective memory. The everyday objects that surround us and products we consume, the pop culture images and major news events that are part of our shared experience, merge to create our group consciousness. It is a form of memory that resides not in an individual mind but in a common realm. These artists summon collective memory, drawing on the power of the recognizable or shared events and familiar objects.

 

Cerith Wyn Evans

Robert Irwin

Sensory

Featuring Ellen Altfest, Cerith Wyn Evans, Robert Irwin, Imi Knoebel, Liza Lou and Virginia Overton.

We think of memory as located in the mind, yet Aristotle noted the physical basis of memory, overlooked by Plato in his emphasis on the visual. To psychologists, sensory memory is a short-term impression registered through the senses without conscious control. For Proust, the sensory basis of memory resided in all the senses but sight: hearing, smell, taste, touch. He distinguished voluntary from involuntary memory; the latter may be triggered by a sensory experience, which summons uninvited a flood of recollection, sensation and emotion beyond the reach of intellect or visual memory. These artworks focus our attention on perceptual phenomena of light or color, or appeal to our senses of touch and even smell.

 

Memory Palace
July 11 – September 2, 2018 / White Cube, Bermondsey
July 11  – September 15, 2018 / White Cube, Mason’s Yard
Exhibition pages Bermondsey > / Mason’s Yard >

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