Politics of Amnesia - Cafe Gallery
POLITICS of Amnesia, a group exhibition curated by Fieldgate Gallery that looks at past trauma through the conduit of technology, is on display at the Cafe Gallery from June 13 to July 15, 2012.
Participating artists are Richard Ducker, Nooshin Farhid, Tim Head, Lee Holden, Mariele Neudecker and Lucy Reynolds.
The participating artists would probably not claim to be political in any overt way, at least in their work, but all look at the psyche of the body politic and reveal traces of disquiet and concern through an interest in, or reference to, technology.
Rather like the little girl in the film Poltergeist, they discern the faint echoes of failed past utopias through the conduit of a technological notion of ‘progress’.
These artists, who know better than to shout, are interested in these echoes, and it is this that the exhibition seeks to evoke. There is a real sense of loss here, even when some of the work plays with optimism, or strikes a mischievous tone. Like Walter Benjamin’s angel, they look to the future by facing the past, witnessing, “the storm we call progress”.
The exhibition’s title is taken from Terry Eagleton’s book After Theory in which he states in the eponymous first chapter: “There can be no falling back on ideas of collectivity which belong to a world unraveling before our eyes”.
Our need to want to fashion our future to our own desires, fills us with both optimism and dread. As our hi-tech future promises us infinite possibilities, it leaves a gap filled with impending disappointment. It is a disappointment through our sense of separation that is loaded with atomised pathos.
It is to this gap that these artists look, where memories appear flattened and shorter, as we are distracted by the heat of the present. This sense of amnesia, induced by the seduction of technology, becomes the consequent politics of memory.
Art has historically always engaged with technology, from the camera obscura in the 18th century, to virtual art now. However, it is not the technology itself that is necessarily interesting, but how it adds to the existing language of art, and offers it new meanings.
Unlike Science Fiction, which creates its own language of myths but acts as an allegory, here the myths are already embedded, and the allegory but a memory, a faint pulse. The human is all but absent in much of the work, but its voice is all the louder because of it.
Times: Wednesday to Sunday from 12 to 6pm.
Cafe Gallery, Centre of Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London, SE16 2UA