The attempt to remember lost loved ones, places, and experiences grows more stressful as sounds, scents, and images fade quickly in the mind. Remembering everything is virtually impossible—attempts to do so feel increasingly futile and is potentially harmful. Making memorials, while maintaining a sense of light heartedness, is a cathartic expression of grief that aids the imperfections of memory. In my artistic practice, I juxtapose the sensation of loss with a light hearted disposition. The body of work takes the form of multilayered installations that combine video, sound, and sculpture to create immersive environments which simultaneously function physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
My process includes studying the construction of preexisting memorials, like the government sanctioned gravestones at national cemeteries to the personalized temporary shrines assembled alongside highways. Stones, flowers, and personal items, like photographs and keepsakes, are found at both types of sites and are the materials I translate into my sculptures. Visitors to cemeteries and roadside memorials pay tribute to loved ones by leaving personal affects behind to express grief and individualize the grave or accident site. This act exemplifies the intersection of private and public memorialization and compels the questions: how is a public grave changed when people leave personal items on the site? And how is a temporary roadside memorial altered when it is systematized by the government?
© 2014 Dara Katzenstein