“Reconstructive Memory” and Anne de Vries at Valentin, Paris
A group show with Michael Assiff, Gina Beavers, Nicolas Deshayes, Travess Smalley, Philipp Timischl and Hayley Tompkins.
Curated by It’s Our Playground.
“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.
It’s Our Playground
at Valentin, Paris
until 23 July 2016
“Reconstructive Memory” installation views at Valentin, Paris, 2016
Courtesy: the artists and Valentin, Paris. Photo: Gregory Copitet
Anne de Vries, Project room
Anne de Vries’ video Pure Immanence (2015) probes the emotionally charged esotericism of huge electronic dance music events in particular those dedicated to the genre known as Hardstyle. Evolving from a subculture of electronic music in the 1970s, whose tracks were aimed to empower and unite its small (often queer) and alternative communities, today this form of electronic dance events has evolved into spectacularly staged, mass culture productions mounted by promotional companies such as Q-dance. In the film swarms of tens of thousands of bodies in concert locations are filmed with the zoom-in and zoom-out of a sporting event cam. A text inspired by the essay “Pure Immanence” by Gilles Deleuze runs throughout the film as a voice-over exploring the philosophical dimension of crowd-based experience. The film is a hypnotic, unsettling articulation of altered state of consciousness as generated by sound and visual effects, the celebration of the synthetic, and the convergence of current tendencies in philosophy and entertainment culture.
at Valentin, Paris
until 23 July 2016
Anne de Vries installation views at Valentin, Paris, 2016
Courtesy: the artist and Valentin, Paris. Photo: Gregory Copitet