THE ART OF MEMORY BY KATE FORDE
Alice Anderson’s new work asks you to take a journey into memory.Walking through a series of rooms you will encounter shapes that seem at once familiar and strange – a car, a record-player, sketch books, a bicycle, even a staircase have been transformed into glowing trophies – lending the experience a hallucinatory quality. Each item has been tightly bound with copper wire, which preserves its outline but removes its function. Divested of purpose these mute objects appear suspended in time, compelling you to rediscover what you thought you already knew intimately. Some may remind you of your own belongings, a few will prompt reminiscences about things you loved then discarded, some will remain abstract and enigmatic. A number of sculptures are presented ‘naked’ – as work in progress – so you may, if you wish, bring about their transformation by helping to ‘mummify’ them in the gallery. As you move through each space the works become increasingly mysterious and distorted as they respond to the pressure of the metal thread and morph into even more curious forms.This is no invitation to nostalgic reverie but a request to be fully awake and conscious of your own ability to weave memories in the here and now.
In the studio one morning in 2011,Anderson began to wind copper wire around her video camera, a charged act for an artist who had started out as a film maker. Finding the work surprisingly satisfying, she spent the whole day on it without noticing; next morning, when she returned, the bound object seemed to her to be ‘protected’ like a time capsule or a mummified treasure from a Pharaoh’s tomb.Anderson quickly resolved to apply this technique to the other objects and furniture in her studio, soon moving on to its architectural elements including the doors, steps and window frames. Having irrevocably changed the status of these things, she is committed to a future living without them, and has determined never to replace what is ‘done’.The reincarnation first realised in her series ‘Weaving in the Studio’ (2011) was in part an attempt to preserve items from Anderson’s past life, and, as she puts it, to prevent them from disappearing. But these works also demonstrate that even those objects that speak to us because of their enduring familiarity are fundamentally altered by our experience of time.
"An electric guitar has been swathed over and over again, the thin thread, wrapped tighter and tighter, entirely containing the instrument so you can see its shape but, up close, cannot make out its strings or fretboard. In caring for it, Anderson has muffled it. This guitar will never wail another solo. Nor will the pipe she has swaddled in copper wire ever again be smoked. This is not a pipe – it is a mummy. It is a ghost".
Jonathan Jones, Alice Anderson at the Wellcome Collection review – a weird, wired world
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