"It is purely the magic of the past that brings me there and leaves me standing there with my eyes closed - the past on which I lean as if over a steaming black cup, from which rises in bluish swirls a mixture of memories, sleep, illusions and regrets…"
Belles saisons, Colette
In the Memorysticks series, Kris Campo poetically observes her little life. The series provides an intimate perspective on her existence, her surroundings and the times in which she lives. Memorysticks contains fragments of people and things that passed by, and for some reason stuck in her mind.
After all, life is mostly a sequence of banal acts and ditto events. Daily activities like drinking coffee, sitting in a living room, visiting a museum, shopping, working ... flow by and vanish into deep oblivion.
But sometimes time falters. Then banality shifts into a recollection that clings to our memory. Moments of intense happiness or deep sorrow. Indignation that drives us to action or leaves us disempowered, beauty that overwhelms us, ugliness that disgusts us ...
Those hiccups of time are stored in Kris Campo's Memory Sticks. But Memorysticks are also subject to wear and tear and so the stored memories become somewhat distorted, fragmented and faded by the perspective of the past, even though they remain capable of taking us back to an atmosphere or an impression hidden in our brain. Thus, they challenge the viewer to look closely and occasionally elicit a sense of recognition.
…‘there is nothing in the whole universe that persists. Everything flows, and is formed as a fleeting image. Time itself, also, glides, in its continual motion, no differently than a river. For neither the river, nor the swift hour can stop: but as wave impels wave, and as the prior wave is chased by the coming wave, and chases the one before, so time flees equally, and, equally, follows, and is always new. For what was before is left behind: and what was not comes to be: and each moment is renewed…’ (Ovid – Metamorphoses)
‘Track & Traces ‘is about impermanence and traces. I try to capture impressions from my life, to transmit them and place them in perspective. Impressions of everyday things. Things that affect me, having to do with wonder, passions, places, family members, their homes and interiors, zeitgeist ... They leave traces of who I am, have been. Yet it is not a biography, but merely pieces of the pattern that shapes my life and that I pass or leave to the passer-by.
The information is fragmented, as memories are fragmented and everything remains open to interpretation.
The audience can enjoy it and have fun by discovering each time another element, another view or by inventing his own story.
Dance and theatre are the first common thread in my work. These elements are part of the series ‘Trias’ and ‘Histriones’. Since my early days they were favourite hobbies, but over time I had to inevitably leave aside active practising. They nevertheless remained dormant and have left their footprints. Now they are reflected in the complex patterns inspired by the costumes in the mythic Triadic ballet of Oscar Schlemmer in the beginning of the 20th century. This ballet can only be performed once every 5O years. The last performance of 1988 made an overwhelming impression on me.
‘Das Triadische Ballet’ of Oscar Schlemmer combines geometric patterns, balance and colour but also movement and scenery. These elements are also strongly present in my work. Importantly, scenery is not only to be understood as decoration, but it gives meaning to the installation as a whole, in a same way as the scenery in theatre sets the mood, content and interpretation of a play. These elements form the basis of the series Trias.
No dance and theater without the theater building. That specific, often impressive and creative architecture, is the inspiration for the works Histriones. These objects evoke the space in which the dancer or actor moves and thus have a more architectural experience.
Going through the process of creation for ‘Trias’ and ‘Histriones’ has led to the project ‘Me, My Family and I’ where the common thread ‘dance and theater’ becomes the starting point to propose an unconventional family image.
Each object has a scenery that is personalised by one family member through self-made collages based on family-pictures and existing patterns. The decals are consciously sliced in pieces and assembled together. Pictures of the family-member are sliced and mixed with small pieces of classical decals to form unique patterns, as I did in previous work. My whole family has been included in the objects, but only those who really look closely will recognize them. The objects are framed by prints on large sheets of rice paper, 1m wide by 2m long, containing details of the objects, creating an interaction between the objects and the walls of the exhibition area, simulating a defined environment – a house?
Me, my family & I is a playful, somewhat eccentric and relativistic conception of my family. It's not a family tree, nor a family photo, but rather an evocation without more. These relatives (have) exist(ed). Consciously and unconsciously, they have left physical and psychological traces by moving around into my world and through the interaction that occurs in a family context.
In ‘Track & Traces, # 2, Decades’ my memories stand central, grouped according to the five decades I lived when starting this work. More specifically ‘Decades’ consist of five ceramic objects, created in my specific shapes, with scenery based on pictures both from my personal life as well as from important events which I remembered from the headlines. The scenery is only made of photographs cut in pieces and put together into a pattern. Neutral white painted furniture from the corresponding period is used as a stand. Details of the scenery on the ceramic objects are reflected in seven large prints on rice paper, connected by a long photo ribbon representing an abstract timeline.
Each of the five objects covers a decade, from the sixties up to now. Details of the photographs of each period have been put together in a pattern. These details can be either about small things like my preference as a youngster for the stories of ‘Martine’ as little girl in the 60’s, or represent more traumatic events during the same period like the fire in the ‘Innovation’, a big shopping mall in Brussels, of which I still recall the burning smell.
Across ‘Decades’ different themes are covered like the diminishing influence of the catholic education or the aftermath of the sixties where we, as teenagers took advantage to claim our own freedom; the development of our interests and the building of one’s life, the importance and the influence of the people surrounding us on our way to look at both life and the world. Choices we make ourselves or which are imposed on us and which influence the rest of our live, historic events such as the fall of the Berlin wall, or 9/11 which have an enormous impact on our way of living together. Loss and sadness as well as new life, cosiness and discoveries, …
‘Decades’ is an unconventional walk through both my personal history and the common history. It is a personal retrospect on the last fifty years, a reinterpretation of my own memories, coloured by time.
“If there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way, the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy."
Thomas Mann, ‘The Magic Mountain’
‘Snowlight’ is a story about my passion for mountains and snow.
This time I play with stacked landscapes, soft icy colours and fragments of images to translate the majesty and the extreme beauty of the white snowy mountains. I bring a very personal picture of the sensation of total freedom, the intense pleasure and the perfection of this enchanting miracle of nature.