“Memories of Tomorrow’s Sunrise”
Ronal H. Silverman Gallery, Los ANgeles
Through July 15, 2022
Written by Austin Janisch
The notion that the present exists simultaneously as an unfolding experience and as an eventual past poses poignant questions alluding to the evocative power of memory which curators Jason Jenn and Vojislav Radovanović, with support from gallery director Mika Cho, explore in Memories of Tomorrow’s Sunrise.
Artists Enrique Castrejon, Serena JV Elston, Anita Getzler, Jason Jenn, Ibuki Kuramochi, Marne Lucas, Trinh Mai, Hande Sever, Vojislav Radovanović, Marval A Rex, Kayla Tange, Nancy Kay Turner, and Jessica Wimbley display a potent sense of introspection as they each probe both their individual psyche and collective experience. Comprised of four rooms, the show probes both memory and questions surrounding futurity. Apparent are those connections between not only past events, persons, and things, but also the manner in which one might interrogate accounts of the future.
In gallery one is Vojislav Radovanović’s mixed media installation Years Devoured by Locusts (2022). Multiple large, clunky television sets display natural scenes as reels of animals and landscapes are juxtaposed with the barren stumps and broken mirror fragments laid about. Years Devoured by Locusts sets the stage for the remainder of the exhibition as trauma, in this case collapse of one’s environment, becomes something that is dually experienced and inherited. Reading as a response to an environment ravaged by tragedy, the piece includes an emptied nest affixed to barren tree stumps that is devoid of life. A remembrance and warning, Radovanović’s piece presents an environment broken.
Trinh Mai’s assemblage entitled Begins with Tea (2013) is a uniformly arranged grid of 212 tea bags representing Mai’s childhood memories of sharing both tea and stories with her grandmother. Mai brews new life into these precious teabags as she now repurposes them. Encapsulating fragments of old family photographs within, each teabag seems to house a memory. With each bag Mai highlights how we not only reminisce about, but also come to form an identity from the past. Remembrance and a shared history read as something that is steeped over time, enriched over multiple generations by the sharing of stories and the multiplicity of ancestral experiences.
Gallery number two revolves around the shared theme of the body. Ibuki Kuramochi’s Prenatal Memory and Species (2022) presents an evocative inquiry into human evolution. Referencing Donna Haraway’s landmark essay “A Cyborg Manifesto,” Kuramochi interlaces “cyborgness” and the lifegiving process of birth to pose questions surrounding memory and the history one is born into. A multilayered piece, Kuramochi’s installation recalls Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the body without organs as she literally creates a body without organs. Each body not only has a set of specified traits, but also carries a wider set of virtual and untapped potentials. Though a freeing is implied, the body remains tethered through bonds.
Nancy Kay Turner’s Burnt Offerings (2020–2022) is a both beautiful and mysterious durational piece. The piece presents the aftermath of baking bread as evocative of those impressions left behind by past actions. Process becomes practice as bread, baking, burning and nourishment are called to mind and recall the religious practice of sacrificial offering. Like the sacred objects of the Shroud of Turin or the Tilma, Turner presents an archive of an event upon a surface. This archive takes on an aura of sacredness as viewers move in toward the work finding unbeknownst meanings amidst the irregular markings of singed bread residue.
In walking through Memories of Tomorrow’s Sunrise, one cannot deny the mercurial presentation of experience and identity displayed. With a keen awareness of both the challenges and struggles that so consume our collective experience of the present moment, it feels pertinent to examine what impact the memory of “now” may have. As a whole, the exhibition poses poignant questions that call us to introspection. Personal and universal meanings reveal how the past has shaped us while reminding us that the future in many respects is made now. The thirteen diverse artists here speak to the lingering effects of experienced and inherited trauma creating a lacuna for our own introspection into what our present will mean to our tomorrow.