Mnemosyne and Metaphor

‘Mnemosyne and Metaphor’, is a response to a work by Caroline Barlett: ‘On the Shelves of Memory to Mnemosyne’ where hundreds of labels record the transition of the collected to the exhibited. It exploits the use of labelling to define physical and ethereal matter, presence and absence.

By researching both archaeological and museum systems of retrieving, recording and exhibiting I have produced a piece that reflects both. In the same way that fossils are the physical imprints of what has been and passed but shaped the world, so does thought and experience shape our lives and our identity. The memories of these are often boxed away in our minds, sometimes too painful to open. It is these thoughts and experiences that I exhibit by ‘opening the boxes’. I appropriated systems of archaeology and museology and utilise themes of metaphor.

Influenced by the work of Claudio Costa, ‘Anthological Ontology’, 1994 the pieces are almost entirely black to suggest the mind as the dark place where these memories are kept and concealed. The lids are all open; otherwise the contents could not be ‘seen’. The strength of the piece is in the labels, which are the only clues given to identify the ‘exhibits’.

In making the memories of thoughts and experiences ‘tangible’, by opening the boxes and publicly exhibiting them, they become something to deal with or respond to. Like real artefacts in a real museum you are invited to put them into their context, perhaps socially, culturally or historically but more probably personally, physically and emotionally and like real artefacts, in doing so try to make sense of ourselves.

“If you understand the parts of something you understand the whole”.  Bridget Crump, curator of Worcester Museum and Art Gallery 2002