Gerardo Suter


From June 2 to September 25, 2005


Memory and palimpsest

In Teeteto, Plato compares the human soul with a waxed table in which the events are recorded. Freud, for its part, will compare it with the wunderblocks. According to him, these "magic blocks" are desktop machines that resemble the way the psychic system functions in capturing and processing external impressions, as they repeat the permanence of the imprint and the virginity of the substance that welcomes it. The "magic blocks" are identified with the very device of human memory. Memory is a kind of board where words are written and erased, but they are leaving behind the residue of a story that remains as a mark, as a palimpsest.

Memory and destiny appear as inscriptions of time in the body. This idea, for example, is the one that underlies the ancient practice of palmistry: a past, a present and a future written in the palm of my hand. The palm of the hand acts in this case as a blank page where time registers its strokes and on which it conforms its map.

But in the same way that every map, when establishing its coordinates, puts into play a dialectic between orientation and disorientation, the memory is shaped from the dialectic inscription-erasure.

The anthropologist Marc Augé highlights both the existence of forgetfulness work in memory and his presence in memory. Memory and forgetfulness would maintain in some way, according to him, the same relationship that maintains life and death, which define one in relation to the other. Remembering and forgetting are, for Augé, work similar to the work of the gardener, who can and select, which in some cases cultivates and in others starts.

From the integral memory to the virgin memory
The character of Borges Funes, the memorable man was a man who, due to an accident, had completely lost the power to forget. He "not only remembered each leaf of each tree of each mountain, but each one of those that he had perceived or imagined." Funes was in favor of having more memories of those who would have had all the men since the world is a world.

Faced with this extreme example of integral memory, we could contrast a virgin memory, white, an absolute forgetfulness, a memory that, far from saying "I do not remember", say, instead, "that has never happened". This memory would be lacking in strokes. It would be constituted as a continuous blank sheet, always ready to be traced through the possible trajectories of a story.

Life and words
"My memory is formed mainly by books. In fact, I barely remember my life," Borges said. He also argued that, in this identification between the real and literary dimensions of its existence, he considered having traveled to China from the reading of the Tao Te Ching, as well as having traveled to India from the reading of Kipling . Citing Emerson, Borges considered that life itself could be understood as a long date. But can a different statute for life and words really be established?

The memory, then, is a kind of whiteboard where the words are inscribed and erased by leaving the mark or palimpsest. But the notion of a mnemonic footprint, far from exercising over events, mainly affects the narrative connections between the different memories of these. Strings of meaning become, in each case, flexible. The memory becomes an incessant movement of passage that goes from the present to necessarily fictional times. This is because it is the desire that makes up the strategies of memory.

The authenticity of a supposed real life becomes increasingly problematic and the identity is presented as a set of potentials and multiple choices. The events connect reversible and probable, they fork and fluctuate and give rise to different lives and different narrations.

The indelible traces to the body, the blank page as essentially potential space, the randomness of the journeys, the statute of memory are some of the topics addressed in this exhibition by Gerardo Suter. The bodies are crossed by past and future brands, for what has been lived and for the projects to the future. Also due to memory and forgetfulness.