Politics of Amnesia

Richard Ducker Nooshin Farhid Tim Head Lee Holden Mariele Neudecker Lucy Reynolds

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.

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.

Lucy Reynolds’ Silo Walk recalls Greenham Common’s past as an American air base and the site of a ten year battle between female anti-nuclear protestors, the military and British government during the 1980s. Reynolds’ double screen film projection attempts to map four women’s remembrances amongst the dotted lines and demarcations of the official history. Lee Holden’s video work I Used to Think, like all his work, examines the powerful influence mainstream culture has upon the social conditioning of a person’s mental state and emotional well-being. Utilising found footage, he focuses on how the mass media construct and define conditions of normality, contingent on the engineering of an individual’s sentiment and nostalgic response. Holden aims to exploit the 'Monoform', a term coined by the filmmaker Peter Watkins to describe the techniques of contemporary propaganda, and further examines the operations of advertising, television news, the National Lottery and other stereotypical forms of address, so as to lay bare the fundamental contradictions inherent in their production and presentation.
Politics of Amnesia

Event Title: Politics of Amnesia
Postcode: Southwark Park, London SE16 2UA
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