Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
—Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922), In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way, 1913
We devise the stories of our lives from a mix of recollection and fabrication amidst a web of relationships: parents, children, siblings, friends and lovers. I Remember Not Remembering presents 12 internationally renowned artists who use personal home movies, photo albums and film footage as raw material for artworks. Yto Barrada and collaborative pair Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia interweave their family histories with the political and social transitions in 1960s postcolonial Morocco and 1970s Mexico. Filmmaker Kahlil Joseph merges snapshots and family videos with contemporary scenes of Compton to create a portrait of Los Angeles 20 years after the 1992 race riots. Larry Sultan’s grid of 44 home-movie stills draws a rough outline of the artist’s 1960s suburban California upbringing. The films of Matthew Buckingham and Hollis Frampton question whether truth and history are irreconcilable ideas. Christian Boltanski, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Christian Widmer, and Hannah Wilke dwell upon mortality and intimacy.
These 12 artists also experiment with techniques championed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by avant-garde French New Wave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker and François Truffaut. The video, 16mm film and photographic artworks presented in I Remember Not Remembering employ found materials and autobiographical voice-over narration to tell a larger story about political and social changes. Like the New Wave directors, the artists utilize these techniques to upend the traditional linear narrative structure associated with film. Their disruptions are intended to jar viewers out of complacent viewing and encourage them to reflect upon their personal experiences, emotions and relationships.
Each artwork in I Remember Not Remembering invokes a believable but unstable portrayal of kinship, a societal shift or personal tragedy. Technicolor scenes of marching bands, road trips, Christmas holidays and school parades arouse a wistful nostalgia that generates a seeming authenticity. Audible above the soft click and whirr of analog projectors, unreliable narrators commingle fact and invention, gently manipulating our presumptions about the dependability of photographs and the immutability of time and memory.
ARTISTS: Yto Barrada, Christian Boltanski, Matthew Buckingham, Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller, Hollis Frampton, Kahlil Joseph, Larry Sultan, Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia, Christian Widmer and Hannah Wilke
Organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Sponsored by the Jane A. Lehman and Alan G. Lehman Foundation.