Anne and Patrick Poirier - MNEMOSYNE
29th October 2016 to 8th January 2017The title of the exhibition ‘Mnemosyne’ refers to memory as being the central theme of the Poiriers’ artistic work. In the course of the years they have used various visual and spatial metaphors in an attempt to render this most elusive of entities, which Sigmund Freud compared to a city lying in ruins. Early on they were interested in archaeology, without being clearly aware of the close relationship between archaeology and memory, and memory and the psyche. It was only later that they realized that a symbolic connection exists between architecture and the phenomenon known as memory. Based on this concept both artists began to create large monumental sculptures in the form of city models which at the same time represent a kind of psychological cartography. ‘Mnemosyne’, the work which gives the exhibition its title, is an example of one of those utopian ‘cities of the memory’. On an oval ground plan reminiscent of the shape of the brain a large number of buildings are arranged, each representing different areas of the mind such as memory, forgetting, consciousness and the unconscious. A further important piece of work by the Poiriers ‘Ouranopolis’ can also be seen at the exhibition. This hanging sculpture, which at first glance reminds one of a UFO, encapsulates spacious rooms within which can only be viewed through portholes in the exterior wall. Like the ruins of the past, this elliptical flying machine warns us of the continuous threat to our culture and that at the slightest sign of imminent catastrophe it can fly off to the other worlds taking its freight i.e. our memories with it.
Anne and Patrick Poirier gained international fame with their poetic arrangements of ruins in connection with the ‘Spurensicherung’ exhibitions. Both born in 1942, she in Marseilles and he in Nantes; they first met when studying at the École National Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (1963-1966) in Paris. In 1967 a scholarship brought both of them to Rome’s Villa Medici where they lived and worked until 1971. Anne and Patrick Poirier were already able to present their work together for the first time in 1970. In 1974 Anne and Patrick Poirier were involved in a pioneering exhibition ‘Spurensicherung’ at the Kunstverein Hamburg and in Munich at the Münchner Städtischen Galerie in the Lenbachhaus. ‘Spurensicherung’ which was to give its name to an entire artistic movement, devoted itself to artistic inquiry and documentation of true and untrue events. Anne and Patrick Poiriers’ early years have also been cited as being formative for their artistic concepts. Both of them grew up in a France destroyed by world war and the devastation was a constant companion throughout their childhoods.