Memory Theatre (2008)
[A slide of a sun temple’s sacrificial altar, a modified skylight in the Loggia’s dome at Tate St Ives, an Extreme Proxigean Spring Tide, and the correct angle of the sun]
Double-page magazine project
Tate Etc, issue no.13, pp.26, 27
Commissioned by Tate Etc as part of Adam Chodzko, Proxigean Tide at Tate St Ives, May –Sept 2008.
Excerpt from a dialogue between Adam Chodzko and Martin Clark, in Adam Chodzko Proxigean Tide, May 2008, Tate Publishing:
AC:” …Yes, as a mnemonic there is this suitably traumatic and ludicrous event suggested: something – a gallery visitor, possibly – is combusted on the steps of the Loggia by a sunbeam that’s been horrifically magnified by an adapted lens in the Loggia’s roof. This event has been precisely calculated to coincide with the moment of an extreme proxigean spring tide – a very high tide that occurs once every 40 or 50 years, when the sun and moon are in direct alignment – which washes into the Loggia and carries the charred remains away, out to sea. Or possibly it is an assembly of events whose timing is wrong; the extreme tide was meant to extinguish the incineration instantly, the two working simultaneously to cancel each other out. The architecture of the building is re-imagined with this entirely other, arcane, and apparently insidious, (even sinister!) function inscribed into it. The Loggia becomes a sacrificial sun temple and the awkwardness or illegibility of the design is revealed to be due to its adherence to a previously unknown set of principles, ones that have to do with another kind of use or knowledge.
Excerpt from Bad Timing, Adam Chodzko interviewed by David Barrett, July-August 2008, Art Monthly, 3181
DB: “…I got the impression that your show was conceived partly in relation to the specifics of the Tate St Ives building and its position above Porthmeor Beach.
AC: Well the building and its situation are really unusual. The gallery was designed to reflect the peculiarly confusing nature of St Ives itself. There seems to be no stable orientation point, the ways in which we feel we can predictably access one part of town to another are confounded, as is any reliable sense of which direction is inland. So that experience very much guided the choice and layout of works for the show.
DB: The first space in the Tate that visitors encounter is the Loggia, which is a kind of open-air amphitheatre with domed roof. This is the focus of your Tate Etc magazine-insert piece, Memory Theatre (2008), which consists of a diagrammatic collage of images depicting an imaginary event in the Loggia itself.
AC: The architecture is somewhat fantastical anyway, and I had the sense that there was some kind of hidden alignment to the structure, one with a particular purpose. So the piece proposes an event where there is a coincidence between the sun reaching one particular position and an extreme high tide.
DB: A proxigean tide – the title of the show.
AC: Exactly. So in the piece the sun is magnified by a lens in the aperture of the Loggia roof, and this beam of light ignites something, probably a gallery visitor, in the space below.
DB: As if the architect was secretly worshipping a sun god and looking for a sacrifice?
AC: Maybe the architect, but just as easily it could be a recent intervention; a glazier repairing a damaged panel in the skylight. Who knows! There’s also the question of whether it is meant to be a sacrifice or just a moment of ecstasy, because ‘according to the calculations’ at the exact moment of combustion the extreme high tide rises up and extinguishes the fire.
DB: But in the work there is a pile of ash that gets washed away into the sea.
AC: But if you really scrutinise the image, this ash is being suspended on ice. So all these apparently predicted movements seem out of control. An extreme moment is apparently contained within one image but the peculiarities of its constituent elements spin it off into other directions. You’re not clear if ecstasy or violence was the intention and the timing was wrong and two natural events didn’t quite coincide. Or is the coincidence simply between a series of shapes and materials in close proximity. However, haunting all this is the notion that the gallery could perhaps consume its visitors.
DB: “…Similar to your work, Hole (2007), for MAMbo in Bologna.
AC: Again there was the fantasy of someone disappearing inside the gallery to become embedded within its fabric (and its aspirations), and the idea of museums performing powerful supernatural roles beyond the mediation of artworks. With a lot of this recent work the fantasy stems from making extreme the expectations of both ‘the gallery’ and ‘the viewer.’ So Memory Theatre is a way of linking Tate St Ives with a series of other phenomena. But another reference for it was how the shape of the Loggia related to the carousel of a slide projector, which itself is a kind of memory theatre: a space (real or imaginary) that consists of illuminated chambers, functioning as an aide memoire for tellers of long, complex stories.
Andrew Wilson, excerpt from The Sacred and the Traversal of Social Space in Adam Chodzko Proxigean Tide, May 2008, Tate Publishing
“…Chodzko’s exhibition at Tate St Ives, Proxigean Tide, evokes a state where those ‘little things’ – objects as much as narrated events and staged situations – have been arranged by an extreme tide. This tide sets off an uncontrolled intervention into the creation of meaning found in the matrix provided by these things. It is the result of an exceptional event, such tides occurring at most once every one and a half years, but it also arises from a structure that is regular and measured. The tides, like the seasons, form the basis of myth and belief structure. The architecture of the building becomes a memory theatre (where aspects of the building act as prompts for its inhabitants or guides) and the projection of a sun temple’s sacrificial altar. The recovery of a notion of sacrifice as enacting a form of exchange or gift was an important aspect of the Collège’s wish to identify the sacred elements of contemporary society and especially when seen at the heart of ‘festival’ (as was registered by Leiris’s experience in Africa). Where a magazine artwork maps out the architecture of Tate St Ives in such a way, Test-tone for Landscape 2005 provides a way of negotiating these spaces using the harmonies produced by five domestic ambient sounds as one moves across the gallery’s loggia threshold…”