Date: 30 August – 2 November 2014
Private View: 29 August 2014
Burlington Hotel, 3-5 Earls Avenue, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2HR UK
Partnership: Folkestone Fringe
“It is more arduous to honour the memory of the nameless than that of the renowned. Historical construction is devoted to the memory of the nameless.”
On the Concept of History, 1940
The aim of the Folkestone Fringe is to showcase, champion, and encourage contemporary art practices that explore public and private spaces and the liminal boundary that exists between them. In this context, Unlocking the Diary: The Archiving of Nameless Memories proposes a group show of 7 international artists at the Edwardian-Victorian Hotel Burlington, inspired by the archiving of diaries. Diaries are where the private memory of the nameless can be found, and nowadays they are written in all kinds of styles of writings and types of media, such as codes, poetry, video and photography.
The diary has been recognised as a significant source of information in the understanding of history. They are mostly kept privately, but notably by people from all walks of lives. We are fortunate that in Britain, the archival act of these ephemeral literatures, which might otherwise have been forgotten, has been institutionalised by organisations like the Mass Observation (1937 - present), The National Archives (2003 - present) and The Great Diary Project (2010 - present). Whereas public archives of memory traditionally exist to serve dominant ideologies and history, shaped by authorities to create our understanding of the past, these organisations collect, archive, interpret and even digitise these journals of daily life – personal records that were written uniquely by someone yet never meant to be read by anyone else but the writer.
Built in the 1890’s during the boom in British seaside retreats in the Dover area, the Burlington hotel has long accommodated the private daydreams and nighttime visions of their everyday guests, staff and passers-by. The exhibition will be interwoven into the current interior architecture of this historic hotel, evoking a landscape of personal memory that has until now remained unknown.
Tallinn-based artist ALIMO employs the surrealist methodology of ‘exquisite corpse’ to re-assemble fragments of past images that he drew everyday but has forgotten. The Swiss multi-disciplinary artist Nadia Berri creates a ‘trail of curiosities’ in unexpected places that will tap into audiences’ personal memories. Primarily concerned with the relationship between nature and culture, the American-German artist Ben Faga has invented a robot bouquet that will, through computer programming, reproduce floral scents of late Victorian Folkestone once depicted on a daily walk journal by an enigmatic diarist named Felix. London based American artist Whitney McVeigh will install a cabinet of found objects as an autobiographical record that alludes to the passing of time and our collective history, referencing the idea of ‘home’ (and the absence of it). Japanese artist Noriko Okaku creates a phantasmagoric animation film that reflects on a diary kept by her late grandfather at the end of World War II. Influenced by the tradition of Fotonovelas, the Spanish artist Cristina Pedreira has composed a fictional narrative composed of once discarded snapshots, cropped and reframed on a newspaper print. The British artist Vanessa Rolf meanwhile reveals a psycho-geographical diary of the sleeping hours she lost, which she recorded as a mother of a newly born in the form of laboriously stitched codes on fabric.
For visitors wishing to navigate the exhibition, a location map, specially designed by Judit Ferencz, will be available at the reception. As part of the exhibition’s collateral programme, Folkestone’s local residents and visitors alike are invited to voluntary donate their own diaries to the Great Diary Project. The exhibition’s online platform acts as a growing archive of diaries posted on the Internet by numerous bloggers worldwide. Virtual visitors are invited to hash-tag #unlockingdiary to post relevant imageries for this archive.
For further information, please visit http://unlockingthediary.tumblr.com/ or contact email@example.com