SEALED MEMORIES (TO E.H.J.), 1996-98
Memory is like a deep, half-explored underground cavern. There are a few paths and passages that we have learned and can navigate easily upon command. But there are infinite less trodden pathways and unexpected passages or unsuspected connections. Every now and then, an opening leads us to a long series of linked corridors and chambers, some of which we remember having visited before, others surprising us by their existence. Often we cannot find an opening for a chamber that we know exists... (May 8, 1997)
Memory is like an iceberg. A bit of it is visible at times, but the great bulk is underneath and will only reveal itself in part and at its will. (August 6, 1997)
Without memory we have no identity, no past, no culture. Memory is perhaps the most important single component of consciousness, yet the most evasive. Our past life fades away inescapably, and we gradually forget even the people dearest to us when they die.
I have dealt with memory in several of my conceptual art works. This particular installation was inspired by a collection of nearly 1500 art postcards left after the death of my dearest friend, who had shared my life for over thirty years. Because postcards are confined to short messages, their format suggested the nature of the piece. I decided that every day I would write to my dead friend bits of memories of her as they came to me, covering them up immediately with aluminum sticky tape, so that they would never be read again by me or anyone else -- memories lost forever, although "addressed" to her and existing under their seal.
During the past two years I have filled some 750 of the postcards, trying not to repeat myself. I discovered that memories cannot be controlled and quantized. They come in flashes, triggered by chance encounters with present reality, but they flow into a stream that is hard to interrupt and package. "Sealed Memories" deals both with the fragility and the inevitability of loss of our memories.
Athena Tacha (May 1998)
March 23, 2000: Four years after starting to write, all 1500 postcards were filled and sealed. The work is completed on the 8th anniversary of my friend's death.