Anne Graham as an artist has had a long commitment to studying the association between memory and things. Research into memory strongly supports the crucial role of things experienced in the world about us in the present for creating recollection of things past.
Proust already knew this when he wrote about the powerful effect of a simple mundane biscuit, a Madeleine, in evoking the presence of his favourite aunt. Things recalled through bodily sensation have a very different level of immanence than memories recorded as text or even image. Indeed new research tells us that memory resides in the cells of the body not just in the brain.
In fact language and conscious thought are responsible for only 2% of the activity of the brain. 98% of what goes on happens prior to our becoming conscious of it. It is this that makes an art of installation which activates memory through bodily response before language kicks in so very powerful.
No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin.
And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea.
"Remembrance of Things Past"
by Marcel Proust
THE EMPERORS NEW CLOTHES
Anne Graham 2014
Since my arrival in Australia in 1975 I have worked with communities in Australia, America, Poland, Japan, Sweden and China to produce creative responses to their environment in order to enhance the communities sense of ownership of a place or history. I work in a variety of media including performance, installation and participatory works.
My research interests focus on an investigation of identity and space, I am particularly concerned with creativity and its role in the formation of identity, my definition of creativity includes cooking, gardening, and also the more conventional notions of art and craft and also many of the forms of the social and constructive activity through which we become who we are.
I believe that the memory of actions and the mnemonic function of objects and materials can be identified as constructors of identity andI create portraits from conversations about the history of objects and activities. I observe the way people construct spaces in their homes and in communities and I develop a complex assemblage of material that provides a portrait of a life and a place.
These installations are not about creating a likeness but rather an evocation that is intended to have universal applicability so that the viewer might feel that these works also resonate with their own life.
Another important aspect of my work is that of Portraiture, not the creation of a likeness but the evocation of a person, place or community through an installation composed of an assemblageof words, objects andphotographs. I am interested in the choices that people make and how these choices form the person.
In conversation with a range of people of different ages and background I have realised the intensity with which people relate to treasured objects and to things salvaged from there past. In these portraits I began to incorporate sounds generated by the environment and used some natural materials such as seeds, snow and wind to evoke a presence. These works invite the viewer to make up stories, they hold many narratives and they transform the ordinary into the magical.