ZAMEK Culture Centre

RESIDENTS \ IN RESIDENCE \ The Memories of Memories \ exhibition by Bettina Bereś

The Memories of Memories is the crowning event of Bettina Bereś’s residency at ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań. The Cracow-based artist had long since wanted to get to know Poznań, exploring the places associated with the history of her family. Bettina’s mother, sculptor Maria Pinińska-Bereś, was born in Poznań in 1931 and spent her early years here, leaving the city when the war broke out. At first, the family lived in a tenement in ul. Grottgera, only to move later to a modernistic villa her grandfather had built in Stary Grunwald. Stories from that time became fairy-tales that Bettina heard from her mother at bedtime. In those tales, the childhood of her mother’s seemed a magical and thoroughly happy time.

Bereś very often draws her family history within the orbit of her work. During her residency, the artist was able to revisit the places and the addresses she remembered from tales heard as a child. Her own memory proved the principal tool of research, as few objects have survived from their family home. Hoping to save as many of their possessions as possible, the Pinińskis loaded it all onto a train and sent it east, but the transport was bombed on the way. The building where they lived underwent multiple conversions during the war, while photographic records are very meagre.

The residency set out to confront the family myths with the present day. Working on the project, Bettina attempted to fill the material void with her own creative reworkings. She decided to paint the objects which in her opinion might have been found at the family home they had lost, envisioning them and recalling the items mentioned in her mother’s stories. The title, The Memories of Memories, denotes the almost archaeological process in the course of which successive images came into being. The entirety of her undertaking draws on Jacques Derrida’s philosophical conception of hauntology, which stresses the post-modern penchant for obsessive archiving and recreations of the past. The past, constantly recurring in its successive variants, never truly ends but endures in a spectral shape. This mode of thought almost utterly abolishes the conservative opposition between the old and the new. Reality is in a flux, just as the spectral identity of objects painted by Bettina, which exist and do not exist simultaneously.

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