Engaging memory: contemporary interpretations of war
This exhibition engages memory through a close inspection of war and its impact on the individual. Veterans carry with them long and complex experiences arising from the realities of war and the vulnerability of memory to the passage of time. Through my role as an artist, I have tried to document the veterans’ stories by making their oral histories visible in the artwork. The “Actualities” are meant to reconstruct or convey their experiences. Capturing and illustrating the transforming power of war and its residual effects on the identity of the veterans and of those around them is fundamental to the premise of the work.
These mouthpieces, symbolic of the veterans’ voices, function not only as corks that impede the flow of memories, but also as repositories for memory. The “Actualities” become a conduit for their reflections. By wearing the pieces, the viewers gain insight into the veterans’ experience, particularly the different facets of their memories and identities. The viewers then themselves become the conduits for these oral histories.
Gaining an understanding of what constitutes war and its transforming nature helps us develop a better appreciation of our humanity. The veterans and their stories, and our engagement with them, delicately link us to the past. Ultimately, we find we are all connected to one another through our own experiences.