“If You Remember, I’ll Remember” I

“If You Remember, I’ll Remember” I

If You Remember, I’ll Remember”  an innovative group exhibition about cultural/historical memory  is currently at The Block Museum of Art At Northwestern University .

“If You Remember, I’ll Remember is an invitation to reflect on the past while contemplating the present through works of art exploring themes of love, mourning, war, relocation, internment, resistance, and civil rights in 19th and 20th century North America. This exhibition includes works by artists Kristine Aono (b. 1960), Shan Goshorn (b. 1957), Samantha Hill (b. 1974), McCallum & Tarry (active 1998-2013), Dario Robleto (b. 1972), and Marie Watt (b. 1967). By engaging with historic documents, photographs, sound recordings, oral histories and objects of material culture drawn from institutional and informal archives, these artists highlight individuals’ stories or make connections to the their own histories. Some make explicit links to events across time periods, while in others these associations are implicit.”

I was struck (no pun intended…the piece features nails)

by Kristine Aono‘s stunning installation:

Nails, documents, wood, styrofoam, burlap sacks
11 x 47 feet
Installation at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston, Illinois
February 4 – June 18, 2017
curated by Janet Dees
“Deru Kugi Wa Utareru is a Japanese proverb which can be translated as “The nail that sticks up the farthest takes the most pounding.” When I came across this saying, it helped to explain how 120,313 people of Japanese ancestry, 2/3 of whom were American citizens, could so obediently submit to being incarcerated during WWII. The proverb and its translation wrap around the room. The walls are wallpapered with copies of letters from my maternal grandfather and documents of testimony by former internees given before congress. Stippled into the walls is a grid of 120.313 holes, one for each person interned. Rusted nails are pounded into the grid, forming a large American flag on the main wall. The remaining nails would fill the walls. Visitors are encouraged to add nails to the wall in memory of or to honor those who were incarcerated.”    —Kristine Aono

Patrons are encouraged to become participants in the creation of the piece.

The immensity  yet subtlety of the piece makes it challenging to photograph…

I found the combination of writing overlaid by nail emerging from it, both of which require manual actions to effect, particularly compelling and evocative, in an almost silent way, like a memorial.

We must not forget.

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