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Blog : Memory

On Memory

In the first chapter of Luis Bunuel's semiautobiographical book 'My Last Breath' he speaks of memory 'you have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realise that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all, just as intelligence without expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it we are nothing.'

In 1998 I was invited along with other artists to make a performance at the ICA celebrating the launch of Rose Lee Goldberg's new book 'Performance: Live Art Since the 60s'. I asked people to write down what they most wished for on a piece of paper passed around the audience I then read these wishes back to that audience. The artist Stuart Brisley was in the audience and had written 'I wish I could remember ' speaking to him later he asked me if I really wished I could remember or if I'd prefer to forget? More a conundrum than a question it has stayed with me and I was reminded of it again when reading W.G.Sebald's book 'On the Natural History of Destruction'.

Passenger Incident - late by thirty five minutes - got lost walking through the low rise housing estates - began wondering if it were possible to be late - on waking the archive became 'present' - it felt as if I'd woken up at the archive at 6.33 this morning - I could remember my dream - a quick fading memory I was struggling to hold on to - a warm familiar feeling had taken hold - making adjustments to a gate -arrival in another scene - walking slowly down an arched cloister - the ground brittle - sharp sunlight streamed through stone openings which overlooked a central courtyard - brilliant white - I could see a young women knelt down in the centre - her eyes locked down staring into a small pool of water - part mythological character part shampoo advert - but this felt heavy - I was afraid - she knew i was present - we both knew - and she passed in a series of jump cuts as I walked down the cloister a time slice animated by the architecture everything white crystalline

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