'memoria technica' at east central gallery, London
'Untitled', diptych, David Adika, 2008
memoria technica - examining the tension between aesthetics and the representation of the self
This group show addresses a fundamental issue that is an integral, and unavoidable, part of producing any art piece: the balance the artist aspires to create, in the imagery of choice, between his or her aesthetic inclination and the way it reflects on the subject matter - a process which is leading, by default, to self defining. Assuming that most ideas and thoughts derive, in one way or another, from a personal bank of memories, and, in a similar way, so are aesthetic preferences, this show examines the path which connects the two and what referral systems are used to activate this relationship.
The title of the show is borrowed from the name Lewis Carroll (the 19th century mathematician and nonsense author, mostly known for his surreal novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland') gave a mnemonics he developed, a device to aid memorising. Carroll, a man of many virtues and of great general knowledge, had employed in developing his method an ancient set of principles, known as the Art of Memory.
This set is known to have existed since the middle of the first millennium. A group of techniques commonly employed in the art include the association of emotionally striking memory images within visualised locations, the chaining or association of groups of images, the association of images with schematic graphics or notae ('signs, markings, figures' in Latin), and the association of text with images.
Any or all of these techniques were often used in combination with the contemplation or study of architecture, books, sculpture and painting, which were seen by practitioners in the art of memory as externalizations of internal memory images and/or organisation
Strictly speaking, Carroll's attempt, when he published the invention in 1875, was to create a system to help remember numbers. However, it is also a fact that issues related to memories and one's ability to retrieve them when desired, preoccupied Carroll well beyond his work as a scientist, and were regularly addressed also in his prose. It is possible to assume that the author had a detailed knowledge of the Art of Memory and, by default, of the use of those principles in the process of creating art.
By relating to the idea of a possible internal system that utilises different memories when an association is created, this show attempts to establish a link which exists between different artists, working in different media, in how they interpret the image they create (or use), through their unique process of facilitating memories and references, as well as aesthetic preferences.
David Adika (Israel, 1970) has been investigating themes of aesthetics and ethnicity in his photography. While on residency in Paris, Adika photographed immigrants and iconic objects (such as a miniature Eiffel Tower) and in pairing them challenges our perception of beauty and belonging.
Vivienne Koorland (South Africa, 1957) draws on personal and collective memories in order to create a distinctive vocabulary of images in her paintings. Many times referring to troubled and painful events, Koorland never ceases to dig into a past many would like to forget. Never the judge, but always the provocateur, Koorland is clearly always referring to here and now.
Carlos Garaicoa (Cuba, 1967) is an interdisciplinary artist who examines political issues through means proposed by architecture. In photography, light boxes, paper cut outs, video works and 3D installations, Garaicoa questions the ethical and moral issues arising by architectural structures and their individual histories, as well as by the grouping of such buildings into cities. Time and again, the artist returns to comment on the basic right for freedom as expressed, throughout history, in urban living.
Zadok Ben-David (Yemen, 1949) is a sculptor who has been using science-related imagery to develop a unique visual language. Heavily influenced by the drawings documenting the great leap of science during the Victorian age, Ben-David has created a vast body of works in which he has been looking at themes such as evolution and theory, magnetic fields and the art of the illusionists. Other significant interests are the human body, the Victorians' obsession with cataloguing and the volumetric effect of the shadow and silhouette on beings and objects. Ben-David is forever reflecting on the tension created by knowledge and advancement.
Clarissa Cestari (Brazil, 1977) has been looking into the process of painting and the place of the paint itself as both an object and a subject matter. In a systematic and lengthy practice, Cestari has developed her unique technique, in which she is creating abstract art using method usually not associated with this movement. Working with a projector which throws small 'accidental' paint doodles into a large canvas, the artist reproduces the image as an imitation, and an interpretation, of the original sketch.