Cafe Gallery : Politics of Amnesia

Richard Ducker, Nooshin Farhid, Tim Head, Lee Holden, Mariele Neudecker, Lucy Reynolds June 13 – July 15, 2012 // Wednesday – Sunday from 12 h – 18 h // CGP London Cafe Gallery

A group exhibition curated by Fieldgate Gallery that looks at past trauma through the conduit of technology.

Nooshin Farhid Conic Trilogy, Lucy Reynolds Silo Walk Photo: Richard Ducker
Nooshin Farhid Conic Trilogy, Lucy Reynolds Silo Walk
photo : Richard Ducker

The participating artists would probably not claim to be political in any overt way, at least in their work, but all look at the psyche of the body politic and reveal traces of disquiet and concern through an interest in, or reference to, technology. Rather like the little girl in the film ‘Poltergeist’, they discern the faint echoes of failed past utopias through the conduit of a technological notion of ‘progress’. These artists, who know better than to shout, are interested in these echoes, and it is this that the exhibition seeks to evoke. There is a real sense of loss here, even when some of the work plays with optimism, or strikes a mischievous tone. Like Walter Benjamin’s angel, they look to the future by facing the past, witnessing, “the storm we call progress”.

Richard Ducker Dark Matter Photo: Richard Ducker
Richard Ducker Dark Matter
photo : Richard Ducker

The exhibition’s title is taken from Terry Eagleton’s book ‘After Theory’ in which he states in the eponymous first chapter: “There can be no falling back on ideas of collectivity which belong to a world unraveling before our eyes”. Our need to want to fashion our future to our own desires, fills us with both optimism and dread. As our hi-tech future promises us infinite possibilities, it leaves a gap filled with impending disappointment. It is a disappointment through our sense of separation that is loaded with atomised pathos. It is to this gap that these artists look, where memories appear flattened and shorter, as we are distracted by the heat of the present. This sense of amnesia, induced by the seduction of technology, becomes the consequent politics of memory.

Mariele Neudecker Much was decided before you were born, Tim Head Neither Photo: Richard Ducker
Mariele Neudecker Much was decided before you were born, Tim Head Neither
photo : Richard Ducker

Art has historically always engaged with technology, from the camera obscura in the 18th century, to virtual art now. However, it is not the technology itself that is necessarily interesting, but how it adds to the existing language of art, and offers it new meanings. Unlike Science Fiction, which creates its own language of myths but acts as an allegory, here the myths are already embedded, and the allegory but a memory, a faint pulse. The human is all but absent in much of the work, but its voice is all the louder because of it.

Fieldgate Gallery, 2012. Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

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