‘Orthodox remembrance is capable of performing murder on the material world – not only what has been in history, but what exists today. Collective memory becomes conformism. Anyone who remembers differently is suspect.’
LC Queisser is pleased to present 100 Year Mountain, a new installation by Won Cha.
Memory is crucial to our survival. The mind partners with its material and social environment, guiding us to sort through the vast density of accumulated lived experience in order to make coherent the overwhelming noise, to
understand what is valuable information and what is unnecessary. Disruptive minutiae and large-scale trauma alike are put into dark corners reserved for that which cannot travel along preexisting channels of coherence. Cha’s work seeks to create specific environments in which specters of the repressed can speak to what is at stake when the scaffolding of this selective coherence remains unexamined. These voices communicate through a cryptic
architecture, revealing the ways power has a stake in what we allow to be processed and integrated into our stories.
Cha’s video work begins with a sequence of black and white images, scenes from war, images of a family, images of individuals, as a robotic woman’s voice introduces the character of a woman harnessed by her past, yelling at
soldiers from the war of her youth in her sleep. The voice continues as the imagery shifts to demolished buildings, old family photographs, artifacts from lives reduced to the white noise of debris. It then closes with a tour of a
digitally rendered city streaming overtop an image of an old woman’s sleeping head, bringing us back to the
character we started with; an individual whose history is folded within in her in ways that create unpredictable
In another room, we find three hanging remnants of an interior. Ripped from their surroundings, pieces of wallboard leak an unrecognizable material onto the floor. At the center of these dark wounds are symbols made in chewing gum. The symbols could refer to the origin of these fragments, or perhaps to moments in the video work. There is a star, a diamond shape, and the beginnings of a house. Hauntingly familiar, yet impossible to place, these fragments become a key into something forgotten. While we can’t trace the clues to resolution, the process of identifying this specific node of ambiguity becomes a site of rewiring our internal circuitry, a moment of accounting for what is on the periphery.
As Buck-Morss says, ‘Collective memory becomes conformism. Anyone who remembers differently is suspect’.
Cha’s installation interrogates what is really suspect when we look at the translation of the raw material of our lives into narrative. By opening a door through which we can hear the echoes of our own inconsistency, our own
relationship to internal banishment, beliefs around value and coherence inherited through generations of
collective memory suddenly become more tangible. The boundaries we’ve been directed to exist within transform from an invisible hand on our back to a stone we can throw through a window.
Courtesy of the artist and LC Queisser