Real Memories

Min Wong, Brianna Speight, Steven Bellosguardo and eDuard Helmbold

23 February 2022 - 13 March 2022

Steven Bellosguardo Slow Grow

Steven Bellosguardo Slow Grow

As time passes and we grow more into the contemporary, the reasons for remembering other times grow, while the ability to recall them weakens. Memory straddles this paradox.

Raqs Media Collective

For Walter Benjamin the present was much more than just a historiographic rehearsal of facts, it was an experience of the past vibrating in the present. For Benjamin, reality is a palimpsest, the present superimposed on the past[i].

The term palimpsest in its literal and archeological form refers to a medieval manuscript that has been erased and inscribed with the overlapping texts of successive scribes over a duration of time. In this literal sense, the palimpsest holds human memory through material transformation. The palimpsest serves as the conceptual cat’s cradle that ties the four artists in this exhibition together. “Real Memories” aims to create an intimate, playful, contemplative and engaging space where audiences can experience “…the urgent negotiation between having to remember (which sometimes includes the obligation to mourn), and the requirement to move on (which sometimes includes the need to forget).

Both are necessary, and each is notionally contingent on the abdication of the other…[ii]

[i] cf  Eiland, Howard, 2007. Superimposition in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Projects
[i] Raqs Media Collective. Now and Elsewhere

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Min Wong’s (NSW) practice examines metaphysical and cultural esoterica of the recent past, ‘New Age’ spirituality and recent renewed interest towards self-help and therapeutic culture. Sculpture and objects use strategies of the palimpsest by reworking and appropriating past material culture to reimagine nomadic meanings that are contingent and subject to the contemporary dilemma of spirituality. This methodology enables the objects to become hybridised and engages the viewer to re-examine their assumptions about human connections with holistic practices, interconnected consciousness and a re-enchantment with nature as a basis for an alternative narrative of the present.

Brianna Speight’s (SA) staged photographic works explore personal lineage and female representation through surreal performative photography. Intrigued by generational inheritance and desire to know of past lives, her practice looks at familial records; the family photo archive, her great grandmother’s journals and places inhabited. Drawing on the layered notion of the palimpsest; soft, sculptural forms are embedded with photographic traces of the past and suspended alongside her own body. The pliable materials embody photo memories and a new record emerges, one that prioritises multiplicity, sensation, ambiguity and emotion.

Steven Bellosguardo’s (SA) work oscillates between two threads within his practice; alternative modes of living and abstract figurative sculpture. Collecting discarded materials, through assemblage he transforms neighbourhood detritus, creating sculptures using DIY construction methods common in alternative and sustainable architecture. Recontextualised, these found materials are given new purpose, rewritten as anthropomorphic and architectural hybrids - a temporal monument to a time and place.

eDuard Helmbold (SA) utilises sculpture and performance to explore contentious histories in ways that temper shame and nostalgia. Industrial materials (copper, plastics, rubber, motor-oil) and found objects are often juxtaposed with organic materials (cow manure, salt, water, meat) in ways that create works that are beguiling yet abject; materializing Susan Best’s notion of ‘Reparative Aesthetics’.  In ‘Real Memories’ Helmbold brings together scavenged pieces from previous works in his RAKA series to create figures that bookmark both the beginning and the end of this cycle.

Exhibition gallery

Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf acknowledges that we are on the land of the Gadigal and Birrabirragal people, the traditional custodians of the land. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf is proudly owned and operated by Woollahra Municipal Council