Photographs document evidence of having been there, of the existence of a moment. What happens, however, once the person whose moment is being captured is no longer there? Do the images still hold their memories, or do they become merely another object to be discarded?
These are some of the questions raised by Unremembered Histories, the latest exhibition project by Leonie Leivenzon, whose practice involves collecting abandoned imagery such as VHS tapes, slides, and photographic prints, altering the material, and merging them with household objects and other familiar forms.
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IMAGE > [Top] Leonie Leivenzon, Unremembered Histories (detail), 2022, dimensions variable. Images courtesy of the
IMAGE > Leonie Leivenzon, Unremembered Histories (installation view), 2023, dimensions variable. Images courtesy of the artist.
IMAGE > Leonie Leivenzon, Unremembered Histories (detail), 2022, dimensions variable. Images courtesy of the artist.
Removed from their original context and transformed into furnishings within an installation environment, Leivenzon’s creative process of gathering, manipulating and recycling lost pictures breathes new life and meaning into the images, each representing a moment rescued from the amnesia of time’s relentless advance. It is this transient, ephemeral nature of memory that Unremembered Histories highlights so movingly, itself a response and attempt to carve a permanent trace of an impermanent moment.
'Unremembered Histories' stems from a previous project in which I visit second-hand stores searching for books where something was forgotten inside by the donor. Rather than viewing the value and meaning of each found book and item as fixed, their discovery is an opportunity to generate new ideas resulting in a wide variety of different artworks and explore a range of materials and concepts. I have unearthed many photographs in this process, from drunken party snaps to first day of school photos, documenting events now disconnected from their original subject and photographer. It was these found objects which sparked the idea for 'Unremembered Histories'.
Leonie Leivenzon, 2023
Leonie Leivenzon is a multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her background as a GP and hypnotherapist led to her interest in addressing dualisms which dominate Western thinking and exploring how we can learn to exist comfortably with unknowns. It is in these moments of ambiguity that we become open to the possibility of understanding, bridging the gaps between memory, experience, and belief. She is currently undertaking The Future Histories Project which involves visiting second-hand bookstores and searching for books where something was forgotten inside by the donor. Using collecting as a methodology for creating moments of questioning while exploring the nature of objects and their ability to embody history, these books and discarded makeshift bookmarks serve as the catalysts for her work. Leonie primarily uses discarded and second-hand materials as inspiration and in the making of her work, allowing her to explore a wide range of different materials, themes, and concepts.
IMAGE > Portrait of Leonie Leivenzon. Image courtesy of the artist.
IMAGE > [above] Leonie Leivenzon, Unremembered Histories (detail), 2022, dimensions variable. Images courtesy of the artist.