Radical Memories

20. November 2015. – 18. December
MegnyitóOpening: November 19, 2015, 7:00 pm
Radical Memories puts it’s emphasis on the dynamics between remembering and forgetting, and examines our relation towards objects, as special containers of our memories. The title refers to several thinkers – among them Hans Ulrich Obrist – and underlines the endangered nature of memories and possible amnesia related to the digital age.

Through various artistic approaches the fragility of memory as well as its manipulation appears, and also the fight against forgetting and sometimes our aim to achieve this state becomes visible too. The gesture, when through an object, which could be seen as an archaeological finding from the past, personal and collective memory fragments meet, becomes important as well. The following questions come up: do we fetishize or take away the meaning from these objects, when we present them in a different context? The preservation or destruction of an object makes our relation towards it stronger or weaker, in other words, is it possible to call forth the state of forgetting or affirm the process of remembering?

Simon Wachsmuth’s video Pulad Zurkhaneh shows Iranian men at the Shiraz bazaar practicing Zurkhaneh, traditional physical exercises. The main characteristics of the video is the focus on objects once symbolizing different forms of weaponry, such as sword, bow, shield etc. The atmospheric images suggest an open narrative instead of a documentary, thus bringing historic and contemporary layers of meaning together.

Zsolt Asztalos is known as a good listener and precise observer of the stories of his “protagonists” in works like Fired but Unexploded (2013) or Dead Objects (2014). However, already the title of his newest work my story – my version proclaims a new attitude, in which the artists confronts us with a radical action. The act of cutting of books and a whole bookcase can be seen as a symbolical, personal reinterpretation of given stories, or as the artist proclaims himself: “The way of thinking about the past or a canon can be formed or changed, as it is not exclusively about the original truth but about ourselves”.

In Áron Kútvölgyi-Szabó and Gábor Koós’s works, personal family objects become appropriated. Kútvölgyi-Szabó pours tar like material onto his grandfather’s emblematic objects in order to examine their relation to the past and their difficult communication with the present. Also, the series Unwashable reflects on the mental process of blackening which happens as the act stigmatization. Koós creates the imprint of a personal object of his, and one could not decide if the goal was preserving or detaching a memory.

The work of Sophie Schmidt shown at the exhibition, Eine Woche Bern is a series of large scale watercolors, handpainted reproductions of original receipts of her weekly expenses. The process of a precise manual reproduction, scaled 10 times, turns the banality of a visit in a local copyshop into an iconic event and the receipt into a piece of art. Exhibited as a series the watercolors add importance to each piece of ordinary information we normally overlook and ignore in our daily routine. Schmidt collected and reproduced receipts ask about what is worthwhile remembering and the unconscious processes that decide what we select and consider important and what we ignore and ban from our personal memory.

What happens now with our memories in the information age, how does the digital sphere alter our holders of memories? With Life is Good for Now Bernd Hopfengärtner and Ludwig Zeller show their newest video right after its premier this May at H3K, Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel. The artists offer a speculative view on a Switzerland that decided to realize the right for informational self-determination. In four scenarios that are narrated through objects and speech from the perspectives of inhabitants of that world the cultural potential and consequences of Big Data are exemplified. Data storage is nothing else than an updated version of the here mentioned “containers of our memories” that marks a radical change in our understanding, definition and usage of memories.