It is often said that trees remember drought so profoundly that they remain prudent even when water becomes bountiful. How devoted they are to remembering! So implacable in their hurt, that archaeologists can know the shape of famine from a hundred million years ago. The same is observed even in great rocks – the ridges of their impervious bodies tell the story of how they, too, have once been malleable to the gentle lapping of ocean waves.
At the heart of this exhibition is a belief: objects remember. They can become such uncanny reflections of the reality within our minds that just the mere sight of them evokes entire lifetimes long gone, washed away, carried by the sands of persistent time. Reactions felt viscerally – a pang so sharp in the chest, splintering into shrapnel of salt water on the lashes – it begs to have a name.
But just as much as this is about the corporeality of remembering, this is also about the pervasiveness of lack – like how the weight of one’s tongue can feel acutely foreign inside the mouth after the loss of a tooth. Sometimes, the disappearances of objects allow for the kindness of not-remembering, especially when memories feel more like bad intentions instead of well-wishes. A hypersensitivity to missing, a paranoia to forgetting.
And now, here: so utterly entrenched in the past, in a feeling so already-known, that the mind blanks. Adamant, still, in recalling, but blanking just the same, and it is there–
It escapes me, but it is there – at the tip of my tongue
– Pantay Bituin