The Continuum of Memory
“When does the physical become emotional? It’s a circle going round and round. Pain, pleasure cannot be relieved. It can’t be eliminated or suppressed. It’s here to stay.” - Louise Bourgeois
Ioana Sisea’s work, The Continuum of Memory, created from the casts hundreds of pairs of her parents’ hands, should be be viewed as a examination of memory.
The work displays a set of childhood memories commemorated through the physicalisation of the hands that helped to shape them. Hands in this case are significant as the medium through which support, lessons, affection and protection (among other things) are offered from parent to child.
These childhood memories resonate with the work of Bourgeois as passive formative experiences presented as a kind of catharsis. In Sisea’s work however, the memories on show are all expressed through the same simplified medium, the hands, and each pair is directly associated with a certain experience providing a control of narrative not found in Bourgeois’s memory ”Cells”.
Such a simplification of emotional experiences has echoes of the work of William Christenberry. The connection of a pair of hands to a specific memory and their use as a mnemonic aid draws comparison with a photograph or album which recalls certain places and events of the past.
However, the total number of hands and their lack of obvious gesture means that they do not simplify experience in such a direct way. As a set, they draw comparison with the work of Christian Boltanski (such as ‘Réserves: La Fete de Pourim’) where the volume of objects makes them elusive to any definitive interpretation.
Yet there is a greater optimism to Sisea’s piece than those of Bourgeois and Boltanski. Memory is suggested to be something at our command rather than something we must simply suffer. We can choose both what experiences we retain and how we appreciate such experiences.
In this sense, Sisea’s work synthesises the approaches of Bourgeois and Christenberry, providing focalised instances of experience at the level of the individual pairs which can be easily related to, but as a whole inviting thoughts on the burden of possessing so many memories, the inability to process them all simultaneously and consequently the unconscious affect they could be exerting.
There is also something celebratory in the multiple episodes of life related by the work and their deference to the change of circumstances with time. This temporal fluidity emancipates the memories in Sisea’s work from the traumatic cyclicality of Bourgeois or the frozen time of Boltanski.
Sisea’s memory world is constantly evolving and transforming, the memories she has captured are now her property and can be retrieved or relinquished at her will.
Installation consists of 260 individual hands with tags.
On the tags different memories can be read such as : " When my mom showed me how to write" , "When my dad taught me how to ride a bike" , "When my dad saved me from drowning" , "When my dad slapped me" etc. Material : vitrus (ceramic) size 18 x 12 cm -- 22 x 16 cm