Remind Me To Remember: Speechless - An Installation at OpenHand OpenSpace Brock Keep July 2018


I created Speechless in a cell at Brock Keep, once a military prison and homeless shelter, now gallery.  The installation of sound, image, text, shadow and light brought together works that interweave and connect with each other on themes of body, memory and the passing of time and evoke the memory of body through sound and touch.  I wanted to make use of the unusual and fascinating gallery space at OpenHand OpenSpace – its strangeness, and how it is like an old shell, with scars and marks that recall it’s own past, and how there is a certain quality to voice and sound within it’s walls. 

About the Speechless Installation:

A key structural metaphor for me in this new work on memory, aging and passing of time is the shell or casings, but also other residues and deposits like bones and minerals. White ‘remains’ of ‘histories’.

It seems to me that memory is like a secretion, an exudate that we accumulate, that builds layers slowly over time to create chambers around us. The world passes through us, and emerges as altered residues that create a shell around us that replaces reality. What becomes fossilised or crystallised, and what is lost in this process? The shell that the body has secreted around itself, or inside itself, retains within its physical structure the traces, marks, patterns and formations relating to its past. This secondary body of memory and recollected sensations is created in the space between body and mind. Between reality and imagination. It is a constant framework through which we see and feel that grows in strength as we age.  

Memories are deeply seated in the body. We remember sensations. Our body remembers.

The shell and the pearl or nacre secreted by it is encumbered with notions about the female body. The secretions of the female body are often taboo. This work is very much about what a woman’s body remembers. I have created a series of ‘viewings’ using various means to create the distortions, alterations, fragments and glimpses that characterise memory. We are always kept at a distance by memory. Touch, smell, sound, image, as if behind a glass.

When I created this installation I asked myself: What is the relationship between the private, personal memory and social, political, cultural, historical memory? What meta-forces shape us, carve us out, create our desires, and experiences, and alter our senses?

We are not free to only remember our own ‘truths’. What truth is there to our memories? I don’t have the luxury of forgetting the colonial past that hugely affected my father’s life, and which brought my father and mother together. These cross-generational and cross-cultural memories became mine. Forgotten histories must be remembered.

You can listen to the sound file of The Instrument that was playing for the duration of Speechless here.