Unlocked The Search for a Resilient Self in an Ambivalent World Kay de Lautour Scott
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When quoting from any of the following text please reference in the following manner: de Lautour Scott, J Kay (2004). Unlocked. www.version, Artist Exhibition Catalogue, Morrinsville, New Zealand. Available at www.kayscott-artist.com
In reflecting on the emotions and memories that have surfaced during the art making process, or when viewing artwork, the notion of self may be identified, and new constructions of self in the present developed. Language and art become a single, comprehensive and indivisible tool for discovering personal identity, fluidity and resilience.
To unlock memories is to take risks, to expose vulnerabilities. It demands reflection and questioning, challenging previously held beliefs about identity and a sense of self. It is not the memory itself that holds such power, but the constructions we put on the memory. These constructions can be consciously revisited, realigned, and reconstructed. But in the end it is the essence of the memory, the part I choose to retain as an indelible imprint, that has become a part of me and forms the basis for how I experience life.
What exactly is the essence of memory comes into question as I encounter an increasing congruence between it, its image, the process involved in manifesting it as a painting, and the completed artefact. All can be metaphors for memory, and its mutable nature demands new images and processes.
This collection of works combines the object, honouring the ordinary, with an exploration of the essence of memories. The images allow multiple readings, inviting the viewer to retrieve forgotten memories and bring a personal narrative to the works.
Memory binds together our sense of self and our perceptions of what reality is. Proust suggests that “what we call ‘reality’ is a product of memory rather than the object of direct encounter” (cited in Langer, 1953, p.264). Our individual narratives are not fixed; Langer writes that “even our personal history as we conceive it is ... a construction out of our own memories, reports of other people’s memories, and assumptions of causal relations among the items thus furnished” (ibid, p. 264).
Precious objects and mementos bring back memories of a happy and secure childhood where my life followed regular patterns and rules. In such an ordered, structured world, conformity and containment are valued. However, the fluidity and resilience of self that are necessary to cope in an ambivalent post-modern world are not necessarily developed from these values. To cope with rapid societal change and contradictory expectations, I require an effective means of negotiating uncharted waters.
Revisiting memories and discovering how constructs are formed allows me to see how I have formed my psychological processes, and, recognising that I have participated in their formation, that I can also participate in changing them. It is in accepting that I have colluded in the creation of my identity that I have the freedom to move on, to be “myself” in process, and develop the resilience found in a mutable self.
Rose: Past and present coming to bear on the art object is like stereoscopic depth perception where each eye focuses on the picture from a slightly different angle. In aesthetic perception, old and new are reintegrated in depth when past and present focus from different angles. In the process, time, place, and person are re-formed anew, repeating the first constructions of reality, but now updated.
Baudrillard: The object is that through which we mourn for ourselves, in the sense that, in so far as we truly possess it, the object stands for our own death, symbolically transcended.
Shepherd : …every time an action passes there is a memory and thereafter the memory is about the memory of the action. And slowly we have this fine silt, the stuff we call history. And, finally, we have history metamorphosed into myth.
Heraclitus: You can never step into the same river twice for fresh waters are always flowing in upon you.
Berger: The past is malleable and flexible, changing as our recollection interprets and re-explains what has happened.
Mahood: How do I pick my way through the densely woven texture of story, memory and myth? How much does memory submit to the myth, which after all is the foundation of the story? And what is the story I am trying to tell anyway?
Carroll:“ ‘…but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
‘I’m sure mine only works one way’ Alice remarked. “I can’t remember things before they happen.’
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.”
Baudrillard, Jean, The System of Collecting. In John Elsner and Roger Cardinel (Eds.). The Culture of Collecting (1994). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
Berger, Peter. Available: http://www.wisdomquotes.com Carroll, Lewis. (1871). Through the Looking Glass. Chapt. 5. Available at: http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au
Case, Caroline. & Daley, Tessa. (1992). The Handbook of Art Therapy. London: Routledge.
Heraclitus 535BC cited in Mahood 2000, Craft for a Dry Lake. Auckland: Anchor. p. 196.
Mahood, Kim 2000. Craft for a Dry Lake. Auckland: Anchor. p. 257, p. 202-203.
Langer, Susanne, K. (1953). Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art Developed from Philosophy in a New Key. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Rose, Gilbert J. (1980). The Power of Form A Psychoanalytic Approach to Aesthetic Form. New York: International Universities Press. p. 14-15
Shepherd, Michael, cited in Gregory O’Brien, (1996). Lands & Deeds. Auckland: Godwit Publishing., p 111. Unlocked: (2004) Whitecliffe Gallery, Randolph St , Auckland; Pyromania, Tauranga;
Ida Carey Gallery, Artspost, Hamilton, New Zealand.