Sites of Memory
July 19 - September 6, 2014
Sites of memory are fundamentally remains, the ultimate embodiments of a memorial consciousness that has barely survived in a historical age that calls out for memory because it has abandoned it. They make their appearance by […] producing, manifesting, establishing, constructing, decreeing, and maintaining by artifice and by will a society deeply absorbed in its own transformation and renewal, one that inherently values the new over the ancient, the young over the old, the future over the past.
-Pierre Nora, 1989
Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Sites of Memory. The show finds its theoretical underpinnings in Pierre Nora’s seminal essay “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire.” The works in the show hover on the dialectic between the two poles of memory and history. They comment on the movement of society at large to rationalize and archive all memories into a totalizing and ever-expanding historical record. To trace the arc of Nora’s trajectory, one only need think of the caches of daily minutiae that fill larger and larger hard drives, and which are now increasingly omnipresent in ‘the cloud.’ The artists in this exhibition—Lewis Baltz, John Divola, Christina Fernandez, Mark Ruwedel, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, and Catherine Wagner—point to various histories via their individual visual strategies. They offer the viewer partial views onto environments, objects, and the human body that suggest even larger structures that are present outside or invisible within the frame.
The show pulls on the historical reserves that are present in all six artists’ practices to demonstrate the myriad formulations and decompositions of sites and memory over time. The landscape is a key component of several works in the exhibition, but it is also crucially absent from others to reflect the variety of vessels in which memory can be stored. The title of the show relays the delicate balance of the historical record. On the one hand, the word site connotes a substantial physical place that one can find herself in or that is known to exist elsewhere. It suggests permanence (though not necessarily imperviousness) through the ages. The other key word, memory, is a concept that is personal, biological, yet which can also be shared between people, among societies and across time. However, memory, which lodges itself with each of our delicate minds, is constantly under threat and always at risk of being compromised, even without our being aware. It is the sites of memory, then, that guard against catastrophic loss of personal and collective memories. The photographs in this show reaffirm the stakes of remembering and the costs of forgetting. They, as Nora writes, “nourish recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, global or detached, particular or symbolic—responsive to each avenue of conveyance or phenomenal screen, to every censorship or projection.”
Nora, Pierre. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire.” Representations 26, Special Issue: Memory and Counter Memory (Spring, 1989): 7-24.
 Ibid. 2.