Memory And Emotional Preservation Explored In New Tate Liverpool Exhibition


“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” – Marcel Duchamp 

Memory is an important aspect of this exhibition, to remember works that generate an emotional effect in order to preserve them. The idea that the visitor completes the artwork also draws our attention to how art becomes significant and how the public contribute to making the work come alive and memorable.

There is a sense of understanding basic materials, having fun with the normal everyday objects we see, perceiving the way in which they can become animated and take on new meaning. For instance, The video by Peter Fischli & David Weiss, in their film, ‘The Way Things Go’, demonstrates the cause and effect of objects placed in a warehouse, highlighting the movement and continuous alchemy surrounding us. Various objects create a chain reaction, physical and chemical reactions. Commonplace materials are used with potential for humour and the absurd allowing us to question our own interpretations of art.

It was interesting to remember and think about which works have actually stood out in my memory, past and present. In this current exhibition, the installation,’Triangle Circle Square 1972, aluminium by Walter De Maria, 1935 – 2013 was of particular interest to me. This is a utopian piece and inspired by Sengal’s 18th – century Buddhist painting of the three primary forms. De Maria sought to create art objects of concentrated contemplation that could potentially alter public consciousness and hold social or Utopian potential.’ Through memory, we also learn about our potential taste in art and the power of collective memory. Try this yourself and see what you remember of the exhibition. Once you know which piece it is, go and look at it again and engage with its meaning.You may surprise yourself on what you thought you liked  rather what you actually remembered.

Another poignant part of this exhibition were the dance performances. On the morning I arrived to view this exhibition JMU Dance were rehearsing a  dynamic dance choreography and following this was a wonderful contemporary dance by The English National Ballet. Intermixed with music and interesting sound effects there was a feeling of suspense in both performances, something exciting or strange was about to happen. If you have an opportunity to see dance within this space, do take it up as I was not disappointed. The idea of movement and the debate of the unstoppable energy of artworks is very much part of this exhibition. The performance of art and its progression, its mystery are all integrated, the feeling that everything is somehow connected and that we are creating the future of art with our combined interests in art.

There is a lovely feeling of space to this exhibition. The cause and effect idea of objects having an effect upon other objects is important as well as the kinetic aspect of ideas. Language and energy have the power to animate objects. By remembering these artworks we preserve a way of thinking about the way humans interact with the material world, carrying with us objects that help us to be more questioning and critical of the material universe we encounter.

A little puzzle for the exhibition, concerning a certain creature called  Odradek which I heard about on the curator’s tour while looking at a photograph of a woman descending some stairs by Jeff Wall.

“The Cares of a Family Man”  is a short story by Franz Kafka, about a creature called Odradek. ”The creature has drawn the attention of many philosophers and literary critics, who have all attempted to interpret its meaning. The story was written between 1914 and 1917 and begins with a discussion of the unclear linguistic origin of the name Odradek, followed by a detailed description of the creature. ”

This creature has been described  at first glance as a flat star-shaped spool for thread, and indeed it does seem to have thread wound upon it; to be sure, they are only old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together, with varied colours. But it is not only a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out of the middle of the star, and another small rod is joined to that at a right angle. As in all Kafka’s work, this creature and its description can be read from different points of view. It is not possible to define exactly what Odradek is, not even what Kafka thought it was when he was writing the story. One possible direct interpretation is that Odradek ”represents any useless, harmless object which is kept around for no obvious reason.” However, many other levels of meaning can be extracted from this story. However, apparently this object  is somewhere in the exhibition. Can you find it?

Finally, there is an interesting opportunity for you to create your own imagined museum with the Albums function on the Tate website, choosing from many of the works from the Tate Collection, combining your memories and works of your own you can create your own Imagined Museum and explore those by others. You can find further information at It is a wonderful feeling to have access to so many wonderful artworks and to interact with this exciting feature. Enjoy your visit to this exhibition!

Words: Alice Lenkiewicz © Artlyst 2015 Image: Paul Almasy Louvre, Paris, 1942 © Paul Almasy | AKG images. Courtesy: the artist and Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs. MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main

Works to Know by Heart: An Imagined Museum Works from the Centre Pompidou, Tate and MMK collections Tate Liverpool: Exhibition 20 November 2015 – 14 February 2016


, ,