Memory-Exercises in the Contemporary Artistic Practice: The Artist’s Book as a Memory Object

Daniela Hermosilla Z.


Thesis Abstract

A fundamental concern that has characterized both the theory and the practice of the twentieth and twenty-first century art, has been the memory and the different ways of thinking it, re-write it, or visually translate it. Reviewing this artistic phenomenon from its historical contexts, several question may appear about the different processes of collective memory in these practices, or on the contrary, about the influence of these artistic representations in the creation of a collective memory; or even about the possibility of some paradigm change in the perception of memory, as historical and cultural contexts may determine a collective memory.

This concern, then influenced by a globalization process, points to the redefinition of identities in opposition to an other, the reestablishment of dynamical orders in a post-colonial context; the terror of oblivion; or the existential, poetic and politic concern facing the passage of time, past histories and memories rescued from a conscious present-time. All issues belonging to a cultural, political and social contemporary context.

When Aby Warburg suggests a new approach to the image and a questioning of the linear way of reading art history, a new paradigm in the understanding of memory is introduced. The creation or use of archives as narrative sources, mobilizes the aesthetic experience to the creative process. The implicit value given to document and registration will open the doors to new territories of contemporary art and memory exercises. While the artist’s book begins essentially as a need for separation of established exhibition institutions, as a democratic method of artistic diffusion, is also a new way of experiencing the visual language, based on the principles of the work as a record, and often, as memory container.

In this way, we will approach the artist’s book as object and idea, as a strategy of memory’s visual representation, in order to find a new approach to the aesthetic physical and temporal concern about memory and the memory practice in contemporary art.