The making of memory

16. 19ARTSHER grandmother’s early alzheimers made memory a much discussed topic at home, artist Cynthia White says.

Her mum embarked on a mission to discover what causes the brain-crippling, heart-breaking disease.

“Not a lot of well-formed theories—but she had a host of them,” White recalls.

“Mostly about not using aluminium frying pans or aluminium deodorant.”

The US-born digital artist and sculptor says she had her own brush with memory’s fallibility following the birth of her son a couple of years ago.

“I realised how easy it is to lose your memory. I would have conversations I didn’t remember, just because of lack of sleep. What is memory became important to me.”

Evolving Memory is a multimedia installation exploring the way memory can shift: “[It’s] the notion that our memories change over time, not always because details are forgotten, but because our present emotions and knowledge influence how we remember our past.”

It comprises a collection of interviews with fellow artists and people on the street, whose ages range from six to 84: the memories raised aren’t necessarily the big ones.

“What I loved about this project is how sensitively people spoke of their past.

“[They] spoke of memories they hadn’t for years, and yes I felt very close to people I hadn’t really known at all.”

The 6-year-old talked of her earliest memory—climbing to the top of a mountain: a witty 84-year-old of his fears of forgetting.

White and her hubby moved to Australia five years ago: “He got a job at UWA shortly after we met. I’m one for adventure and said ‘yeah let’s go to Australia’.

“It was very different. I thought it was The Man from Snowy River and a bit of Crocodile Dundee.”

White has a host of documentaries to her credit, including Ship Spotters, a Fremantle-based film shown at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in California in 2012.

The doco follows a bunch of local blokes who spend their time spotting ships—a slower version of train spotting (the past-time, not the movie…that’s entirely something else).

Evolving Memory is upstairs at the Moores building on Henry Street, Fremantle April 25 to May 11. Entry is free.


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