Paloma Proudfoot, The Memory Theatre

2 December 2022 By
Paloma Proudfoot, The Memory Theatre, 2022, Installation View at Bosse & Baum. Courtesy of the artist and Bosse & Baum. Photography by Damian Griffiths (3)
Paloma Proudfoot, The Memory Theatre, 2022, Installation View at Bosse & Baum. Courtesy of the artist and Bosse & Baum. Photography by Damian Griffiths (4)
Paloma Proudfoot, The Memory Theatre, 2022, Installation View at Bosse & Baum. Courtesy of the artist and Bosse & Baum. Photography by Damian Griffiths (5)

Friday Dispatch – 2 December 2022

Paloma Proudfoot, The Memory Theatre
Bosse & Baum, Bussy Building

 

Three large female ceramic figures occupy the walls of Bosse & Baum. They seem to be confronted with isolation and abandonment. The largest figure, The Memory Theatre, 2022, depicts a gigantic spread of pages viewed together, framing two sculptures, as if the viewer had suddenly opened to this page. Two hands hold the book while two bright yellow post-it notes mark the pages — could this be significant? A woman wearing a green moss-like dress loosely yanks a rope of thread that graciously unravels between the spine of the book, creating branches, twigs, or arteries to form another, more wood-like, creature on the other page. The correspondence between humans and nature represents a duality depicting the coming together of the physical and emotional. The female figures look alike which creates an uncanny repetition that these are different self-portraits of the artist.

 

Memories and recollections are at the core of this exhibition. In There was a whispered story and a shouted one and both were true, 2022, a figure stands with one hand sheathed inside a pocket as the other is left to unpick a thread from a book on her chest, symbolically close to her heart. Memory is presented once more like an open page, where we can see an image on the book cover. A figure lying in bed. Reminiscent of a disease that forced the body to rest. On the opposite wall in Stitches, 2022, we see a seated figure on a chair with their legs wide open, wearing a dark armour-like garment. They are busy tightening their corset with a large needle. The potential danger of the precarious needle close to her heart creates tension. Yet, the figure holds the needle with an assurance. Details of small metal elements are nailed within these clay sculptures, transforming them into cyborgs or puppets, recalling Donna Haraway’s manifesto of a technological posthuman bodily aesthetic.

 

Paloma Proudfoot created these works by making different shapes of clay ‘tiles’ which she then assembles on the wall, almost like cutting and pasting the elements in different combinations. There are smaller scale works around the gallery with other symbolic and surreal references. Proudfoot has always been interested in fabrics and this way of working recalls assembling patches of cloth together. Another source of inspiration was a large ceramic frieze made by artist Philippa Threlfall in 1972 that depicts the maritime history of Greenwich. The sailors and courtiers stand along each other, witnessing all the other stories that remain untold, forgotten or erased. Proudfoot’s large robotic women stand similarly as a reminder that where history can erase details, memory can contort reality. This is why memory and recollection stand in tension together, like a giant needle close to the chest.

 

Ilaria Puri Purini
Curator of National Programme

 

Unit BGC, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00 – 18:00
Exhibition open until 28