MEMENTO MORI, 1993
Utatsuyama Temple — Kanazawa, Japan
Mixed-media Installation: straw, hair, rope, tar, plaster, steel mesh, beeswax, salt.
14 ft. H x 20 ft. x 26 ft.
Intrigued with the history and memory of places, I created a site-specific installation within the remains of a Buddhist temple in Kanazawa, Japan. The temple’s hollow shell was filled with memories and abandoned purposes and gave rise to the creation of a series of hollow, translucent forms along with objects for seemingly metaphysical purposes. Twelve hundred meters of tarred and knotted rope hung suspended from the rafters of the Buddha’s former gold-leafed hall. The knotted ropes bore reference to particular human activities and formed layers of calligraphic screens. Peering through these layers the viewer attempted to retrieve a clearly focused image of the objects suspended in their midst, an activity reminiscent of efforts to retrieve images and memories within the spaces of our own minds.
MEMENTO MORI, 1995
Site-specific Installation for In Three Dimensions: American Women Sculptors of the 90’s
Snug Harbor Cultural Center — Staten Island, New York
Mixed-media Installation: tarred rope; newspaper on wire-mesh panels with beeswax; peat moss; pots & pans covered with tar and beeswax; cedar ladder structures for rope suspension; audio from speakers buried in rope knots.
12 ft. H x 12 ft. x 30 ft.
Removing “Memento Mori” from its temple in Japan to a new home in New York required creating another context. This transition paralleled a movement from a private to a public space; from a place referencing histories of interior reflections of the individual to a context referencing histories of the cumulative activities of individuals within communities, cities and nations.
Writings with and without words create the new context through which the viewer moves and discovers records of human activities. Walking through the calligraphy of knotted ropes, the viewer is shadowed by sounds of other footsteps emerging in whispers from within the knots.
Light filters through words in a myriad of languages across the bees-waxed pages of international newspapers forming the paneled ceiling of the installation. These words travel from the ceiling down the coded ropes, through knots of memories to then spill out onto a floor of peat moss strewn with pots and pans embalmed in tar and beeswax. The viewer, standing in their midst, not only reads these records visually but, filled with their smells, is forced to read other subliminal layers of their texts.