Back to All Events

Natalie Willow Boterman: MORE THAN AN OBJECT // LESS THAN A MEMORY


Essay, Installation and Exhibition

Exhibiting: Saturday, October 12 - Sunday, November 3
Performance: Saturday and Sunday, October 19th & 20th

Image courtesy of the artist

Image courtesy of the artist

“Where do we come from, where are we, and where are we going? Where do we come from? It’s a key question. It has always been at the core of our civilizations. As for religion, the world of science today tends to separate science from religion and yet the fundamental questions pondered by man are of religious origin and motive. It’s a matter of discovering the origins of mankind, of our planet, the solar system. Finding out how a galaxy, a planet or a star is born. All these questions about our origins, we astronomers try to answer. We try to shed light on these difficult questions. We try to answer two questions, we do as best we can, and four more arise. That is the nature of science. Some say that we are not very efficient, that in answering two questions, we trigger four others. But that’s science, it’s never resolved. That’s what I like about it. The mystery of science is eternal. All of our life experiences, including this conversation happened in the past. Even if it is a matter of a millionths of a second. The camera I am looking at now is a few meters away and is therefore already several millionths of a second in the past in relation to the time on my watch. The signal takes time to arrive. The light reflected from the camera or from you, reaches me after a moment. A fleeting moment, as the speed of light is very fast. How long does it take for the moonlight to reach us? Just over a second. And sunlight? Eight minutes. So we don’t see things at the very instant we look at them? No, that’s a trap. The present doesn’t exist.”

Birthday cards from extended family, drawings from kindergarten, report cards detailing your short comings and how you distract the other kids, 100s of pieces of paper neatly stacked and placed in boxes, like a time capsule of the moments in your life. At some point in our adulthood we have had to deal with this personal archive. Too precious to discard, our families pass these keepsakes on to us. The thought of destroying them is too painful to bear, but the sheer quantity of these items is taking up valuable physical space that would be put to better use storing winter coats or the box of a new TV. The library of your experiences is in the way. And actually, most of these documents no longer correspond with any substantive memory of significance. They have been relegated a literal paper weight. A hangover from childhood. These documents are the evidence, first hand accounts, of your life. And yet they have become so far removed from their original context that you can no longer place them within the timeline of your life. For me, these papers are more than just an arbitrary object. Inscribed with meaning, these are the testimony of my existence, of my story, of my identity. And yet, conversely, they are scraps, the detritus of the actual memory, the truth was lost long ago. The ruthlessness of time have rendered these items to be less than useful. This archive has morphed and twisted over time, losing its ability to recall these moments with precision, ultimately becoming less than a memory. In the middle of the gallery I have placed several cardboard boxes. At first glance it looks as though it is nothing special. Average at best. Pedestrian. Everyday. But contained within these cardboard coffers are the keepsakes of my life, all thirty five years of it. A witness to my existence, these pages chronicle the path I have cut, the person I have become, and a reference perhaps of the person I will be.

"On October 19th, I will be for the first time in more than 20 years, emptying these boxes and addressing these documents. In an effort to rid myself of the dead weight, the performance will culminate with me destroying the contents. I am shedding".

-Natlaie Willow Boterman