“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”- Tom Stoppard, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
They might be terribly confused most of the time, but Roz and Guil do have moments of insight once in a while. When experiencing memories, like burned bridges, we can only look back at them and manage to hold onto a feeling or a scent. Stoppard, with Roz and Guil, links events and memory with presumptions that we make: we presume that we felt or reacted a certain way in accordance to what we remember. That presumption and our remembered reaction, combined, makes a memory. A Green Dress addresses and challenges our notions of memory, and the duality between the object and our memory of it.
The following notes are fragments of what I wrote down during a tour of A Green Dress by curators Carol Mayer, Karen Duffek, and Krisztina Laszlo. The pictures I use are taken by Vitor Munhoz who quite cleverly uses a photography technique which gives the gallery a surrealist feel. That is his memory of the exhibit. My memory of their performance takes the shape of my notes. Enjoy.
Notes on a Green Dress Tour
By Matthew Willis
- Museums as places of “memory making”
- Memory as a theoretical concept: Malleable, subjective, individual, immaterial
- Iraqi brick—People speculated this brick was part of the Tower of Babylon. Despite the doubt in this claim, it still becomes a memory associated with the object, correct or incorrect.
- Childrens’ drawings
- From families fleeing El Salvador
- Pictures drawn of soldiers, families, killing and generally unpleasant things as witnessed by these children
- Witnessing as a form of memory
- The Green Dress
- From a reconciliation ceremony
- Ceremony was performed to eliminate a curse and ask forgiveness of the decedents of Reverend John Williams who was killed by the ancestors of the cursed clan in 1839.
- Ceremony was for the elimination of an old memory and the creation of a new one.
- Memories of every participant in the ceremony would be different: there was a desire to create something material so a “memory book” of the event was created as something material for the event.
- Green Dresses were made for the decedents of John Williams and Carol Mayer (curator at MOA) who also took part in the ceremon
- Coast Salish sign
- Logo of Coke is imprinted on the mind without reading the actual text (the sign has been known to trick people, me for instance)
- Glass boxes: outsides are covered up so must literally look inside the box in order to gain access to the artwork.