Reconstructive Memory is an English term borrowed from cognitive psychology meaning that memory is not a faithful reproduction of past events but rather a mental faculty based on recollection- reconstruction processes. Depending on our emotions, our level of tiredness, our beliefs, we may reconstruct episodes from our lives in a way that leads to distortions, alterations and false memories.
Since the invention of computers, the data-storage race has been generating technological debates. The machines are obliged to keep offering more memory to enable us to preserve our own. Like a search engine, our brain uses this external memory more and more, and invents strategies to free itself from the overload of amassed information. It therefore knows where to find the details it needs, without needing to store the contents: a new way to operate our encephalon, approaching a form of artificial intelligence.
It has now become a habit on the internet: documentation precedes exhibition visits. Those immaculate images purged of all imperfections circulate quickly, often substituting for the works, which must be photogenic above all. In Reconstructive Memory, we further accentuate the difference between the physical encounter with the pieces and their discovery through documentation. In fact, although we are able to get close to the works in the gallery, the experience behind the screen is disrupted by large printed transparent filters placed in the axis of the pieces hung on the gallery walls, allowing only a partial view of these.
Whether it be the paintings that Gina Beavers has carefully modelled and painted based on photographs gleaned on Google images; poetic collages by Hayley Tompkins made up of re- photographed advertisements arranged on galvanized metal panels; thermally moulded intestinal paintings by Nicolas Deshayes; sculpted paint by Michael Assiff; varnished, melancholic paintings by Philipp Timischl; or the woven digital image by Travess Smalley, the works presented in the space are hard to understand by means of a two-dimensional image. Beyond their meaning, they were chosen for their complex materiality and appear muddled, as if they had poorly digested their transfer to the screen. Fleshy, corporeal, reflecting our own anatomy, they make Reconstructive Memory an exhibition you want to roam, explore, even touch.
The large-format prints placed in the visitor’s field of vision were made from Galerie Valentin’s photographic archives. During the consultation period, our own memories of visits to rue Saint-Gilles resurfaced. We were gripped by the specificities of the place and the hanging automatisms that led successive photographs to produce five recurring viewing angles. Collages created by superimposing and deforming dozens of exhibition views are seen as memory interfaces, mnesic traces of the past thirteen years. Taking as their very subject the place in which they have been set up, these porous screens oscillate between scenographic elements and contextual sculptures. These ambiguous filters, conceived as pieces that condition access to the works and unsettle visitors, act as revelatory reproductions offering a new perspective on the work of the invited artists.
The exhibition follows Screen Play (SWG3 Gallery, Glasgow 2014); Deep Screen (Parc Saint-Léger, Pougues-les-Eaux 2015) and Show Room (Glassbox, Paris 2015) and is part of an exploration of methods of producing, installing, apprehending and distributing an exhibition. Reconstructive Memory offers two simultaneous experiences that are different and complementary at the same time. Although coming to the gallery will still make it possible to have a special relationship with the works, the online visit, a genuine exhibition project in its own right, will be no less unique and original. Whichever experience is had, our memory will inexorably make sure to change our recollection of it.
Exhibiting artists: Michael Assiff, Gina Beavers, Nicolas Deshayes, Philipp Timischl, Hayley Tompkins and Travess Smalley.
Curated by: It's Our Playground.
Galerie Valentin, July 1 - July 23