Memory defines us, whether the personal memories that shape our sense of self or the collective, cultural and historical memories on which societies build their identities. Memory has been a key to recovery from the trauma of the twentieth century’s historical calamities, and to surviving the pace of change in the modern age.
Art lends itself to the personal and confessional, and is a powerful medium for stories missing from history’s official record. In a cast, a print or a photograph, or through found materials, art can embody an intrinsic, indexical memory. The act of recording memory is invoked in works using text and other forms of notation, while art that appeals to senses beyond the visual conjures a Proustian idea of memory, as something which can be triggered by an intense sensory experience. Memory Palace is named for the best-known mnemonic device among the ‘arts of memory’ expounded by ancient classical and Chinese scholars. In the technique, the subject mentally places the objects to be remembered along a path through a familiar location, recalling them by retracing the journey.
Located across White Cube’s London galleries at Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard, Memory Palace is articulated by an architectural framework that leads the viewer through six broad themes of memory: Historical, Autobiographical, Traces, Transcription, Collective and Sensory.