On memory

On Memory

All day, everyday, our minds store information. What we experience, see, feel and perceive, without any real awareness of it happening, is stored in our memory. As if we were machines recording all surrounding stimuli in a direct yet confusing fashion. Each memory must be processed by us, becoming distorted or manipulated to fit what we interpret from that reality. Then, in our sleep, that memory is sifted to keep just what’s “needed” and, oftentimes, “hide” what we did not wish to feel or experience.

The fragility of memories has been the subject of countless theoretical and scientific studies. Reviving memories with absolute definition and clarity is quite impossible. Like stormy clouds limiting a comprehensive understanding of phenomena, memories are complex, confusing and evoked differently by different people. Even when they have the same experience, the memory of it will never be the same for each individual. More importantly, memories can betray us by creating a narrative that better suits our consciousness so we don’t have to face harsh reality. Or even worse, by making us “forget” traumatic childhood events, or blocking them, if you will. With these acts of disappearance, can we truly trust our memory? Can we believe them?

Collecting, cataloging, storing and retrieving life experiences are concepts that María Ignacia Walker links to memory. Fully aware of the fact that memories mutate, change shapes, transcend and are modified, especially as time goes by. As a result of such reflections, she created On Memory, a series of figurative copper and silver pieces resembling human faces. Forged through electroforming, she aims to convey how memories fade because of their fleeting and subjective nature.

Every face depicts the fragility of memory, the erosion that occurs through the endless repetition of the same image. Though they are indeed faces, they’re distorted in the same unconscious and unmanageable way our mind does with our memories, which, much like her pieces, gradually lose their structure. In a pulsating and constant exploration, María Ignacia Walker explores her own memories filled with faces from the past. Faces that are increasingly blurry but become tangible in her quest to find different methods of capturing a memory.

Faces can simply be identified by the gaps in them. With a little imagination we could fill them with the missing surfaces or organs. One by one, until the faces become the murky masses that have often been portrayed to represent the image of a memory. Although these faces still have some expressive features, they cancel each other out, whilst strengthening the confusing and complex essence of memories. They could represent shouts, moans, cries or surprise and we could spend hours speculating on their shape. However, as is the case for many unexplored memories, we must make way for imagination and let the pieces speak for themselves. Letting the viewers interpret them through their own experiences and subjectivity. Reconstructing events is often part studies on memory and that same reconstruction is present in each and every piece of On Memory. The complexities of such process are shown in her pieces, all open to interpretation.


Elisa Massardo


copper / silver / rubies / textile / gold plated / steel


Simon Contreras