Memory Objects, Memory Dialogues
Double Projection Video
This project consists of a video installation with two projections simultaneously playing on opposite walls of a room. One wall displays a series of edited interviews conducted by Alyssa during her fieldwork in Romania in 2006-7, featuring Bucharest residents sharing their recollections of the communist past. Their memories and stories were stimulated by Alyssa’s field collections of ordinary household objects associated with the period before the 1989 Revolution.
The opposite wall displays a series of 16mm animations of these objects—everyday, domestic items, including an ice cube tray, a porcelain figurine, an ink bottle, a set of miniature cookbooks, a wooden darning mushroom, and a schoolgirl’s uniform. The animations were conceived by Selena and filmed collaboratively during Alyssa’s fieldwork in Bucharest. The animations do not illustrate the stories of the objects, but rather create new stories evoking the feeling and operations of memory; they function as contrapuntal dialogues between the interviewees, the anthropologist, and the artist.
The interviews are heard in Romanian, subtitled in English. The animations provide a silent visual accompaniment to the spoken recollections. Standing between the two screens, the viewer must create his or her own narratives about the projected memories. Like memories themselves, these narratives are fragmentary and incomplete, elusive and evocative, abstract and concrete, involving all of the senses.
Over the past decade, Selena and Alyssa have collaborated on many projects involving film, installations, and writing. Their work aims to define a new space between art and anthropology, without one serving as an auxiliary to the other. Here, artist and anthropologist engage with each other on theoretical and practical levels, making the “field” an extension of the “studio,” a space where ethnographic awareness informs and shapes the creative process.
Alyssa Grossman has a PhD in Social Anthropology with Visual Media from the University of Manchester, and an MA in Visual Anthropology from Manchester’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in Heritage Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, where she is continuing her research into everyday sites and practices of remembrance work in post-socialist Bucharest.
Selena Kimball earned her BFA in sculpture from The Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from Hunter College. Her recent large-scale wall installations have been exhibited at the Portland Museum of Art and the University of North Texas. She is currently in a two-person show at Wolfstaedter Gallery, Frankfurt, Germany. Kimball has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell colony, Blue Mountain Center, and Millay Colony of Art. Kimball’s collages, installations, and animations rework cultural artifacts focusing on the hidden, sometimes abstract or overlooked, aspects of these histories. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.