DA Alumnae Mandy Wax and Caryl Beach members of Memento Collective, a group of five contemporary artists, have found a source of inspiration in the work of Sigmund Freud. This collective exhibition, ‘Death, Dreams & Desire’ responds to Freud’s ideas and thinking through a multitude of creative approaches, from the haunting and self-questioning to the deathly and the curious. All of the senses will be stimulated through sound, film, photography, drawing, textiles and paint. This group exhibition shines new light on Freudian thinking and ideas, and will keep visitors intrigued long after they leave.
Known as the ‘father of psychoanalysis’, Austrian doctor Sigmund Freud changed forever the way we see ourselves. Believing our adult behaviour is driven by repressed childhood experiences of love, loss, sexuality and death, he wrote extensively on these subjects. He practised psychoanalysis with many patients in distress and has left a lasting legacy, particularly with regard to how we understand the unconscious mind.
The iconic text, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) outlined Freud’s belief that dreams could reveal hidden meanings about our innermost desires, which were often erotic or sexualised, and this provided a perfect backdrop to some of the most impressive artworks in recent history. Nowadays, many of Freud’s ideas have been superseded by scientific approaches to human psychology. Within the arts however, the creativity and inventiveness of Freud’s theories continue to fascinate and inspire.
About Memento Collective
A collective of five working artists who meet regularly to share and discuss the progress of their work. Through doing so they have identified a number of common themes; memory, loss, re-emergence and return. These are expressed by each artist through a variety of practices, concepts and techniques, including drawing, painting and printmaking; sculpture; photography and film; documentation, installation and live art.
Caryl is an interdisciplinary artist, using photography, drawing, printmaking and film. She is inspired by landscape and experience, exploring the past and present and is fascinated by the concept of time, memory and post memory. In the process of researching for this exhibition, Freud’s 1910 essay ‘Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of His Childhood’ triggered an early memory for Caryl. This was the starting point for the works in this show which depict buried memories of childhood trauma as well as glimpses of happier times whilst growing up. She investigates the impact and meaning of childhood memory as well as questioning possibilities around false memory.
Helen’s main medium is drawing as it is great for thinking with. Helen has been working for some years on an investigative project, ‘If We Were Houses’, exploring the self through the metaphor of the house. Not just ‘oneself’, but ‘the self‘ as anyone might relate to it. Helen is presenting works from this ongoing series as part of this exhibition.
Mandy is a multi-disciplinary artist making works in both two and three dimensions. She is interested in how traces of the past can haunt the present and how buried matter or forces can emerge and affect our lives and relationships. Her pieces are often about sadness, longing and loss. Since late 2021 she has been making works inspired by an ongoing collection of her own dreams. Influenced by ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ by Freud, she questions if the nonsensical nature of dreams are related to the thoughts and questions we have whilst we are awake.
Mark is a self taught and intuitive artist, consumed by the complexities of class, masculinity and violence. He attempts to directly confront the somatic and psychological trauma of his personal story of poverty and normative violence. Mark uses materials representative of the social fabric that we encounter in our daily lives, creating textured and incomplete narratives that reference the psychological confusion and compression of modern existence into data. Through an iterative, almost performative act of application and destruction, Mark pushes materials to their limits with physicality and aggression integral to the process.
Stu is a photographic artist working with the themes of voice, ownership, nature, age and progression of time. Using both digital and medium-format film cameras to create semi-autobiographical self-portraits and portraits of others, he incorporates props and objects into his work to respond to the themes. He is inspired by the strong contrast of light and dark in chiaroscuro paintings, and the symbolism in allegorical still life paintings. Stu’s recent work for this exhibition delves into Freud’s concepts of death drive and life drive, and the parallels between the states of sleep and death.
- Caryl Beach