Above: Tower on a Hill, 2018
On view now thru December 2023
Memory My City is an exploration of both the past and the future, and a meditation on the mystery of unrelenting change. The title comes from W. S. Merwin’s poem “The Crossroads of the World, Etc.” which so beautifully expresses the transitory nature of everything around us. Memory, like a ruin, is a partial reconstruction, pieces of it falling away, out of place, or gone forever. In its place we fabricate a new city, wholly our own. The work is the result of two distinct forces: the considered and careful dismantlement of discarded objects, and their resurrection into a remodeled narrative.
The actual construction of ruins, creating new structures as if they are already partially destroyed, saw its heyday in 19th century England. Known as follies, these foolish and madly expensive garden structures were designed and built from the get go to portray a desolate future. Beyond contributing to the myth of a glorious past, lost knowledge, or repressed nature, the Romantic idea of the fragment being more appealing than the complete work underlays a complex set of anxieties: failure, aging, change, survival and annihilation. Ruins can signify the forces of nature, whether swift and violent, or slow and corrosive, and/or the foolishness and excesses of human civilization.
The sculptures, hexacomb cardboard embedded with plastic decorations and modern holiday trash of all kinds, are as if excavated from some future archaeological site. Holiday and party decorations, obsolete the very next day, are an exemplum of all the marginal junk that overflow in and out of our lives, creating a persistent and unstoppable natural disaster. The sculptures are then placed into a landscape in decline, constructed from the same materials that have caused its near demise. As the Romantics built their ruins on the myth of a glorious past, Memory My City is a myth of survival. Nature goes on, living and dying, until it has repaired the damage people have wrought.