Thanks for the memories


Frank Bramblett’s post (see the previous post) brought to mind a show that’s just a memory now but has stayed in my memory and was about memory.

Dean Dass’s show, “Mnemosyne” (that’s the goddess of memory in Green mythology), that closed last week at Schmidt/Dean, offered both practiced art (I’m referring to Bramblett’s terms) and concept, although the concept was a little abstruse as it related to the art, and the art was as juicy and sensory as an eyeball and fingertip could yearn for.

dass2 Dass’s three large tomes (not shown), all named “Mnemosyne,” were beautifully tactile and included transcriptions of the unfinished poem “Mnemosyne” by 19th century German Romantic poet Holderlin. The typywritten poem seemed to me to interfere with Dass’s final product, even though the words had inspired the tomes. I’d rather have lost the memory of the starting point, but I haven’t forgotten the beauty that I saw.

dass3 The computer-generated images and the painted images based on a squence of snapshots of a burning building disintegrate and gel into focus, each image offering a different take on a memory receding and returning.

While I liked it all, the tricks of memory seemed like conceptual baggage, overwhelming and obscuring the visual impulses.

But I’m in love with the concept because the world of memory; and false memory; and what happens to the facts, the images, the history, and the people we used to know as time passes are a result of our invention, and thus a little bit false. As we comb through the artifacts of history and reinvent our stories, we end up with a new truth when we’ve done it right.

I think these are the places that Anastasi, Malen and Dass are playing with and mulling over, and I find them interesting. I don’t know if it’s great art, but I know I want to spend time with the work and my memories of the work.