Lorna Collins ‘Comeback’
This work is about the physicality and ungraspability of memory, which has roots in something very physical, material, and tactile. I project a cacophony of sounds and images in the exhibition space, as flashes of data that stimulate and form the content of sudden, involuntary recollections. Comeback is an impossible attempt to grasp hold of these recollections, in order to secure and place the history and meaning of my life.
I respond to having total amnesia as a result of a chronic head injury 14 years ago, after falling off a horse. I lost all memories of my previous life, and also – to some degree – the capacity to remember (as elements from my personal history, even after the accident, continued to dissolve). But now, 14 years later, I suddenly experience a multitude of vivid memories. I feel whole again. This happened as a result of returning to the horses, after so many broken years apart from them. The physicality of my new, instantaneous, spontaneous, refound bond with the horses triggers memory involuntarily. Suddenly I relive the past. I make a comeback. This exhibition space thence becomes a space for the decollage of flashing memories that reshape and nourish my mind. Analogue filmic images and sounds flicker in random succession. These audio and visual flashbacks are objective, tactile fragments of gorgeous memories about a blissful youth, with the horses on a farm in the countryside.
This installation exposes how my refound relationship with the horses suddenly and surprisingly triggers memory. Sounds and images re-emerge in my mind, of horses’ hooves, the chickens clucking, the opening of rusty gates, the laughter of youth and success. These sounds are rich with associations and develop new meanings and vigour with their new entry into my life. This is what I project, intermittent with flashing images (like broken dreams) to create a spatialising of time lost and regained. This is a Deleuzian time-image, which contains an auric aspect that bears the shock of self-recognition, self-realisation, of returning home, when I suddenly remember who I am.
This trajectory involves Walter Benjamin’s work on aura and the photograph, where he talks about ‘physical memory’, or the shocking moment, a flash, which kickstarts a memory. The shock is about something being made visible again. This is like me – as soon as I get on the horse life slips back into place. I have flashing memories. Benjamin uses Proust – where the taste of Madeleine cake sparks off the memory of things past. This is involuntary memory as well as spontaneous recollection.
Memory spatialises time. My exhibition of flashbacks then curates time. This is space-bound time. The point of my show is to create a lexicon to secure and make sense of what has eluded me for 14 years. In this respect I am influenced by arte povera artist Yannis Kounnellis’s using horses as objects, where history is played out in a performance, like Beuys.
I will use recorded sounds that are evocative of memory, that speak to and from my soul. My installation will comprise of spatial zones that have sound. Influenced by Christina Kubisch, I want my art to speak the sonic landscape that I have been away from for so long. Sound-bites will hover around irregular, rushing visual cues. Together the audio-visual data presents an elastic stimulus for recollection.
Walking into the installation, the viewer perceives how my memories have become spatialised, and held, in time. The impossibility of this procedure (since memories are so elusive and ungraspable, like time itself) is reflected in the cacophonic and random projection of multiple stimuli (just like the involuntary shock and cacaphonic randomness of my sudden memories). What brings the work together, to create a unifying (rather than disperate) aesthetic experience, is the joy of fate (which has returned my life to me) and the materiality, physicality and tactility of memories – from the horses – which make me feel so alive.
I envisage curating a medium-sized section of a studio (3x3x3m) which has 3 or 4 sides. It would be a room with three walls and an open entrance (with a piece of material covering it), or, ideally, it would have four enclosed walls so the flashes of sound and images are contained as a narrative within the space, which the viewer enters and moves around. I would use 2 or 3 projectors and several speakers. I would place objects and touchy-feely materials (a horse shoe, horse hair colleted stamps, jute, soda crystalls, baby oil, abstract tactile images painted) randomly on the walls (arte povera/Beuys). The sounds are the same as those which my mother played to me when I was in a coma – of the farm, waking up. It took a long time for me to wake up. But now I have. I want to treasure this moment forever. The horses pay a large part in my new state of mind. This is why my Major Project has its base and drive from their connection with me. Such a profound connection will be expressed in a public performance.
KEY RESEARCH SOURCES (please give an outline of key bibliographic sources, and references to outside agencies where appropriate)
Proust À la rechèrche du temps perdû
Benjamin on Proust, Baudelaire and aura
Miriam Bratu Hansen (Benjamin’s aura)
Christina Kubisch (sound)
Monty Roberts ‘The Horse Whisperer’
PRACTICAL RESOURCES REQUIRED
To spend time with the horses – to continue to trigger memories, begin and develop our performance.
To delve into the archives of my personal history, as recorded in at least 5-600 journals, diaries, albums, records, letters and sketchbooks, which are in the vaults at the farm where I grew up.
Experimenting with making sound and visual projections, and different objects and materials in the exhibition space.