The space at l’étrangère is divided into two distinct spaces, each one containing a particular layered and interlinked project. As the title suggests, the instability of memory is at the centre of Marie Jeschke’s solo show. ‘Can’t Remember Always Always’ is, however, also an exploration into the creation of nostalgia, the futility of the archive and the birth of new work through the corruption of the old.
The first room presents ‘Kieshofer Moor, Always’ (2015), an installation that combines photography, object and sign. The looming figures hung on the walls are made of three separate and interwoven parts. Jeschke has used images taken by her biologist grandfather and distorted them digitally, enlarging and stretching them. In front of these ‘backdrops’ she has reproduced and enlarged selected football cards from her personal collection that have been printed on aluminium, cut into totem-esque shapes. The shapes are undeniably linguistic, though not relating to a language I recognise. These layered objects – the bucolic grasses behind with the superimposed football/signs positioned on top – open the viewer to a strange world of inherited imagery and temporally distorted perception.
The aluminium shapes are house signs from rural communities on Hiddensee Island, Northern Germany. Each house symbol is a key to understanding the particular history and codes of its society. Texts about this practice are provided by the entrance and offer a fascinating, though somehow unsettling, insight into the alienating potential of such overt social shibboleths – they make me think of signs daubed on doors to condemn or spare inhabitants. Jeschke positions herself as culturally absent within these works, inheriting a lineage where each generation has become less formative in the manufacture of their own social codes. From participant to observer to collector, the tripartite objects suggest we have shifted how we view our personal and cultural histories. If the first space signifies a certain alienation, then the works in the second attempt to reclaim ownership of the past.
The installation ‘Neti Neti (Neither This Nor That)’ is divided into three sections; a framed group of chemically manipulated photographs, a collection of various liquid containers taped up with layered imagery, and a set of Perspex boxes in which additional photographs are weighted down by roughly shaped stones from Hiddensee Island to ‘develop’ under unidentified liquids. There is a conversation here between Jeschke and Hollis Frampton’s film-work ‘Nostalgia’, where photographs are burned on a hotplate beneath an out-of-synch narrative. Something new is created out of the destruction of the old, a catalogue constructed from the destructions of the process. The context of the photographs is irrelevant but the insertion of the past into the new object creation builds together a shared future history. Jeschke is asking us to consider if all past isn’t an imagined past.
Jeschke’s exhibition is a beautifully crafted, intricate micro-world. In it, codes of memory are altered by time, natural and cultural elements, and ultimately transfigured into something far beyond their constituent parts.