Body Memory (Leibgedächtnis)

The Art Academy, Warsaw, Poland. Waschhaus, Potsdam, Germany. The Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee.

 

Body Memory was a collaborative research project between 4 professors and 15 students in Warsaw, Berlin and Dundee, on the theme of Leibgedachtnis (Body Memory). Participating institutions were: Burg Giebichenstein, Hochschule für Kunst und Design Halle (Halle College of Art & Design); Akademie Sztuk Pienknych Warszawa (Art Academy Warsaw); Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. Method involved an online group dialogue starting 2003 and culminating in detailed preparation and discussions in person for the touring exhibition. The exhibitions consisted of 40 works, with traditional and conceptual approaches, including sculptures, paintings, photographs and video, light and sound installations. The cross-cultural enquiry looked at articulations of the body and how they are culturally perceived. The diverse aesthetic interpretations of the Body Memory theme led to a critical and inspiring discussion between the participating groups. As an established British artist, working with printmaking, video, sculpture and installation involving feminist issues, my intellectual contribution to this exhibition was to pose a series of visual questions from the perspective of a woman, wife and mother on the diverse aesthetic interpretations of Body Memory. My etchings were presented as an interchangeable installation. They described in two dimensions the female form through the impression of clothing, however the human form was absent. Azade Koker created a similar effect in three dimensions and the works were hung in relation and “in dialogue with each other”. I also showed an earlier work Chimera (1998). The intention was to subtly challenge the male perception of the female body in relation to the female experience of her body through visual and poetic means.

The resulting work by students and their tutors was exhibited in an international group show in the ‘Aula’ of the prestigious Art Academy of Warsaw. The show was very well received by the Polish hosts and the Warsaw public. Polish national television featured the exhibition. The students from Dundee found the experience very stimulating, and it gave them invaluable insights into staging an exhibition in a foreign country mastering language barriers and cultural differences. The diverse aesthetic interpretations of the Body Memory theme led to a critical and inspiring discussion between the participating groups. The outcome of this research project were displayed in two further exhibitions held in Potsdam, Germany, in April 2004, and in the Cooper Gallery, DJCAD, in August / September 2004.