Can memories be esthetically radicalized? What is the process? Taking the old image, the old picture, what Freud termed the hyper-aesthetic memory, the fragmented slivers of flash, then using them to catalyze creativity. D.W. Winnicott had a genial idea of creativity as found objects which are created into; this creating into, rather than “out of” results in a re-transfiguration, a re-estheticizing into new contexts and juxtapositions: new ways of responding to the universally subjective and esthetic in them. Memorability based on the universally subjective; a revealing of a secret, or hitherto obstructed universality that permits a transcendence of contemporaneity.
It is the idea of appropriating memory to arrive at the spontaneous gesture and personal idea; a defiance of a false world, a chronological, linear world smug in its myths and devoid of history, that has abandoned it. Symbols of endurance and the eternal in an unbearable world. Call it the emancipation of emptiness, a shedding of old skin, a peeling of the onion where ambiguous auras of abandonment are shedded. Figures incapable of relating to others since they are wrapped in auras of grayness that serve as shrouds for the figure: death shrouds that are life-negating dominating the life affirming. Yes, societal structures, patriarchy. The default position and the banal acceptance is an ambivalence toward the subject, an “otherizing” from the sober to the fatal it is a series of inconclusive, vaguely articulated gestures which veil the figures they delineate.
But, the act of recollection is always the rub. The bugaboo of the anxiety of influence; what Bergson termed backward turning memory which magically changes course and is projected out of its time prison into artistic action, seemingly from out of nowhere. Here, memory is restored to its former and new splendor elevated to imaginative significance: a liberation, an emancipation of images that had been stereotyped, codified and canonized by the scribblers of history, the high priests of categorization- now elaborated, “now time” into poetic works. A way out of Freud’s strangulated effect, now with its breathing restored and pent up vocabulary released in torrents of prose and poetry in harmony. A restoring of immanence. Emanation by a re-working in innovative ways and not simple reproductions passed off as the latest and greatest. It is a reforming of art from the foundation up; a total makeover which reveals it was never conceived and realized by rote formula. It is a recovery of expressive originality. The revolutionary act becomes that of active recollection.
If we throw two darts: one at our memory and one at a map of art history, and then using whatever it struck as the departure point for someone’s own art there would likely be a conjunction at some point; a point of inflexion where the new would result. Here, distinctions between traditional and avant-garde, major and minor, hi-brow and lo-brow art would make little sense; irrelevant in postmodernism, where the credibility of all art collapses when confronted with a universal hierarchy of artistic value :has become a hindrance to creativity. The canon is a narrow closed system. The so-called scrap heap of art history is alive with interesting debris, and the artist can pick and chose between them at random,like tossing darts, becoming a savant in constructing their own shop of curiosities. This informing process results in work which however indebted to memory, appear different from the sources. Making a difference while doffing the cap to history…
Kuspit:The paintings Large Black Head (1961) and Large Nude (1962) and the 1965 sculptures of Lotar, his head held high on a body that has melted into a heap of mortal clay, epitomize human presence, in all its desperateness and defiance. It is at once tumescent and detumescent, tangible and intangible. An amazing blend of amorphous abstraction and mimetic structure, chaotic formlessness and unsettled form — human presence deformed by its own formative process, which it seems to have willed — these dialectically indecisive last works are the most inherently dramatic, tense, equivocal and uncanny that Giacometti ever made. They are his most consummate articulation of the basic conflicts that make for all-too-human being. None of these conflicts can ever be resolved for all time, which is why they erupt again and again. One is between libidinous and destructive feelings, the other between inner necessity and outer necessity. That is, one conflict is located within the self, the other between the world and the self struggling to separate from it, at the same time as it belong to it. The self may negate the world — declare it meaningless, empty — but it cannot escape its space. In the end it is a family space, from which there is no separation, which is why Giacometti’s self remains insecure. Giacometti’s late works are his most deeply moving, intimate images, not only because they are his boldest statement of the existential and formal issues he struggled with from his Surrealist days, but because they explicitly reveal the eschatological mood that has always informed his art.
It is as though he himself only slowly became aware of its eschatological purpose, finally, with his last works, gaining clear insight into it and into the final truth about life. The Large Black Head is in effect a skull — it has become one with the deep black void, thus losing its illusory purity — but the triumph of death it implies is compromised by its own open eyes, which suggest a powerful, alert consciousness. Human beings remain conscious to their deaths, and are conscious of their deaths. Death and consciousness are in conflict in the late portraits. Each stands in awe of the other, neither dominating. The late portraits are filled with profound stillness, silence, melancholy: Giacometti has at last become conscious of the death in his unconscious and of its connection with the death in the world. But they also show the triumph of consciousness and self-consciousness over fate and inner conflict.Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit4-25-06.asp
Henri Bergson:we can even conceive that its entire past is virtually indicated in its consciousness ; but this past does not interest the animal enough to detach it from the fascinating present, and its recognition must be rather lived than thought. To call up the past in the form of an image, we must be able to withdraw ourselves from the action of the moment, we must have the power to value the useless, we must have the will to dream. Man alone is capable of such an effort. But even in him the past to which he returns is fugitive, ever on the point of escaping him, as though his backward turning memory were thwarted by the other, more natural, memory, of which the forward movement bears him on to action and to life.
But true representative memory records every moment of duration, each unique, and not to be repeated
When psychologists talk of recollection as of a fold in a material, as of an impress graven deeper by repetition, they forget, that the immense majority of our memories bear upon events and details of our life of which the essence is to have a date, and consequently to be incapable of being repeated. The memories which we acquire voluntarily by repetition are rare and exceptional. On the contrary, the recording, by memory, of facts and images unique in their kind takes place at every moment of duration. But inasmuch as learnt memories are more useful, they are inure remarked. Acid as the acquisition of these memories by a repetition of the same effort resembles the well-known process …Read More:http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Bergson/Bergson_1911b/Bergson_1911_02.html