Fleeting Memory

Begun in 2012, Fleeting Memory offers a reflection on memory loss and asks what remains of our lives beyond recollection. My daily accompaniment of my father, who suffers from a degenerative memory disorder, inspired me to investigate the themes of loss, erasure, vulnerability, and the parent-child bond. My father is the reference point for these works, both iconographically and conceptually. The pieces include pictorial and sculptural works made from objects that were his or that I gleaned from our family belongings, in combination with various materials.

In this exploration, I harmonize support and medium with the theme of memory through techniques and materials that reflect both absence and presence, lived experience and the memories it creates. Clothing and sheets used in the place of canvas evoke the imprint of a body; unoccupied, they symbolize disappearance. Strongly diluted pigments also help carry this metaphor. My approach engages both the personal and the universal by registering the testimony of the body and the aging spirit, while creative activity itself ensures the renewal of life. As such, the works evoke the fundamental moments of existence, birth and death – realities reflected in their titles as well.

Several pieces in this corpus emphasize the intimate through the use of embroidery, which demands a close relationship with the material, and through the utilization of worn men’s clothing. The juxtaposition of an embroidered landscape with an item of men’s clothing, as in the series Dénommé Jean-Marc (Known as Jean-Marc), also offers a reflection on needlework, a craft perceived as feminine, and its appropriation by mass culture in the form of needlepoint canvases, printed in the thousands of copies and thus situated between the personal and collective. The ensemble explores male-female and father-daughter relations. At the same time, it reveals the specific universe that is my father’s through the integration of actual pieces of his life, while also evoking his internal confusion. Lost in a forest of reminiscences, he becomes a visitor in his own life, the threads of which have become intertwined. Embroidery is used strategically to express the complexity of his relationship to memory, and of ours. It questions both the notion of the trace we hope to leave of ourselves and the challenge that loss represents. Depicted is an elderly man, his inhibitions fallen away; and yet emanating from him is a dynamic projection of his innermost essence, which is still active and in which we can see ourselves.

The works created in this way are intentionally intimate, marked by interiority, strength, and vulnerability, reflecting both my experience as a caregiver (a role traditionally relegated to women), and my appropriation of needlework techniques. My formal approach in Fleeting Memory is directly linked to the issues at play and to my ongoing exploration of materials and themes related to the human condition.