NICOLAI BUGLAJ  Left without Right 1982

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      The history of amnesia is not only what has been written or created, but also what is present in us at every moment.  Facing it, the mind is compelled - like an actor without script - to improvise, to feed the continuum of our existence.
       We cannot remember, so we create.  We cannot remember our beginnings, so we can fabricate them with images and theories: matter emerging from spirit; a prime mover; the big bang. As Robert Jastrow has said, the cosmologist grudgingly recognizes that a curtain has been drawn - perhaps forever - on our knowledge of the inception of the universe and its early development.  The theologian smiles with pleasure, seeing in that fact a proof that the eternal and the divine cannot be apprehended by reason.

       At every turn in our lives, a crevice in our memory: 
       Last Friday a full moon was shining.  Or was it Thursday? it was a light yellow coin.  Or did it have a greenish haze? Or orange glow?  Because you said it was going to rain the next day, I can't remember.  
       We'll have to construct it against a pearl black sky, out of cartilage and glass, wire and papier-mache, a coin, a white shadow, perhaps with thistles, yellow and ashen.  Ant it will be there - a gap.  A round hole, on which we will have constructed our moon, which will evoke that absence - that lacuna in our memory.  
        Creation is brought forth by amnesia as much as it is by memory.  As Heidegger remarked in Being and Time (1927), "Forgetting is not nothing, nor is it just a failure to remember; it is rather a 'positive' ecstatical mode of one's having been - a mode with a character of its own. Bertrand Russell in the Analysis of Mind (1921) postulated a world created a moment ago, populated by beings who recall an illusory past. (Freud called the fabrications of false memories by the psyche paramnesia). There is the perfect creative amnesia: out of the present, an illusory past. A fiction.  
       We who recall you, Mnemosyne, goddess of memory, recall your daughters, the nine muses who feed on memory. Without memory there is no presence, there is no art.  But memory is the form, that which the hand and the mind recall. Rhetoric is an aggregate, the remembrance of the gestures and efforts at creation of so many who came before us. 
     Memory is the form;  amnesia can be the content and the structure.  Amnesia seeps like a many-tongued fire between the firm fingers of traditional forms.  Memory is essential to paint in a certain style, to cluster words in certain rhythms, to dance with certain body movements - all growing from the past. 
     To enter the kingdom of amnesia is to enter a world where names have been displaced by water and shadows.   It is to find oneself again speechless, with one's heart beating without words.  It is to face a tree, a house, a street, a cloud, a bird, a song - a world we cannot gather beneath the marble domes of traditional forms of labels from the past.  it is to enter a world forever marvelous.  

         The creations of the Amnesis artist are letters to amnesia, messages inspired on a poetic and philosophic conception of amnesia.  Without an awareness of amnesia, we cannot have a complete vision. The poetry, the painting, the music, the ballet, the theater of amnesia: all are forms of forgetfulness resonant with allusions, polyvalent in meanings, aesthetic objects that illuminate life.  
           But what is the color of amnesia?  What is the form of amnesia?  What is the sound of amnesia?  What are the gestures of amnesia? 
         We cannot know, but we can imagine them.  For example, we can imagine the visual forms of forgetfulness (as the plastic artists of Amnesis have done) as parks full of images the resist being gathered into symbols, trees cut in half, ghost images of objects, lost alphabets, objects at the edge of cognition, ephemeral gestures: emblems and presence of the landscape of amnesia.  
        Giorgio de Chirico wondered at the possibility of entering a world where the links, the associations of memory, have broken down.  In his essay "On Metaphysical Art" (1919) he wrote: " I enter the room, i see a man sitting in an armchair, I note a birdcage with a canary hanging from the ceiling, I see paintings on the wall and a bookcase with books... But let us suppose that for a moment, the threads of memory were broken completely, since illogic is predicated on the loss of memory, who knows how i might then see the room, who knows with what astonishment, what terror and possibly also with what pleasure and consolation I might view the scene". 

    Facing Amnesia, the scribes de Loen said, "The artist, like the proverbial amnesiac of Eritrea, fabricates stories to cover he voids in his memory... The stories of the artist are those that lend themselves to the paintbrush, to marble, to the movements of his body, to music and to writing."  The fables of the arts of amnesia are testimonies to the absences in our minds. 
    What words can represent the form of formlessness of amnesia?  Expressions (such as those written by the scribes of Loen) with an indeterminate semantic focus can, r others composed in a fractured rhetoric, stories that make us feel and understand the confusion, astonishment, and vision of amnesia.  
     The theater and ballet of amnesia enter the realm of absences and presences that constitutes amnesia:  from light to darkness, from the visible to the invisible, from presence to what is hidden, from variety to a nuance that approximates uniformity and sameness. 
      Memory and amnesia are as much a part of music as sound and silence.  A melody depends on remembrance verging on amnesia.  the music of amnesia, like the ultimate zikr of Middle Eastern music, pursues the purest silence, which cannot exist in reality, but only in our psyche as a forgotten sound. 

     In the plastic arts, particularly since 1982, the expression of amnesia has rapidly expanded in the work of the artists of amnesis.  Surprisingly, aside from Giorgio de Chirico, who hinted at the possibility of seeing amnesia as a creative premise, plastic artists throughout the ages have gathered beneath the shadow of Mnemosyne - or memory.  
     All art movements spring from certain assumptions or premises.  Surrealism maintains that the deeply embedded memories of the subconscious ca be expressed, without rational control or aesthetic and moral constraints, through formal approaches that range from the blob to figurative representation.  Expressionism claims that the distortion f perceptual reality can reveal the soul or inner world of beings and things.  Abstract Expressionism affirms that color has an affective and mystical quality.  the attitudinal art of Marcel Duchamp assumes that the nominative act by the artist can render a common technological ware into an objet d'art.  
     The plastic arts of Amnesis assume that amnesia is immanent to the psyche, that the mind invents "fables" when confronted with forgetfulness, that the notion of the lost object is integral to aesthetic amnesia.  Amnesis affirms that the fables of amnesia can be given a spatial dimension or structure, much like mnemonics (techniques to assist and develop memory) attribute to memory artificial spatial arrangements (images set within invented loci, or places).  
    Amnesis works of art adopt a symbolic representation (in the sense that a minimal spot of paint can act as a symbol).  They include singular combinations of spatial and temporal planes, the indeterminate use of signs and a self-reflexive fictionalization.  This is an art whose content and structure are fundamentally molded by amnesia and absence and not by presence and memory (be it conscious or, as is surrealism, subconscious memory).  

    The essential elements of this art are: 

  • An aesthetic atmosphere allusive to amnesia created by the formal elements of the work - in painting, for example, by the allusiveness of perspective, line, form, and color. 
  • The lost object as an emblem for the absence of amnesia.  Such symbol may be an absent image or silhouette, a half image, a fractured image, a ghost image, et cetera.  These generalized forms, in some instances, point to our shared realm of experience and to our similarities. 
  • the incongruous organization of disparate icons that suggests the bewilderment and dissociative effect of amnesia and that can lead the viewer to a singularly polyvalent semiotic reading.
  • A sense of ahistorical or undifferentiated time.  Memory operates by association in space and time (it has a geometry and a chronology).; amnesia dissociates the normal arrangement of both.  Some Amnesis painters represent this quality by a suitable manipulation of spatial planes, or by quoting art and fragments of history from various periods.
  • A sense of ephemerality implied by the notion of amnesia and often embodied by the transient nature of certain works of art and media.
  • The link between linguistic elements (titles, letters, phrases, et cetera) and the theme of amnesia.
The totality of human existence is circumscribed by amnesia: the amnesia of a prehistory entirely unrecorded, and the amnesia of a possible (thereby in itself a presence) posthistory when a human race, bu its own hand or because of a natural catastrophe, would be extinct. 
   The written history of mankind began barely five thousand years ago.  from that point back to the inception of the universe, we have a vast gap in our collective memory. And now, after that fateful August 6 in Hiroshima, we are overwhelmed by the visible threat of the possible annihilation of every human being and of all human memory.  our hand has added a greater weight to that of the biblical prophecy of an apocalypse.
  The problem of memory appears in large measure resolved.  Writing and modern mnemotechnical inventions such as cameras, tape recorders, movies, videos, and computers, scrupulously document fragments of our lives, dreams, and fears.  Yet the waters of amnesia that run beneath us, as the scribes of  Loen stated, will always be with us.  Our words, our gestures, our dwellings and all the supranature we have built will always be set on a sea of amnesia. 
  Amnesia can be considered, as the scribes affirmed, terrifying and destructive, comical and beneficent, a state of emptiness or a state that poetically alludes to all things.  Amnesia is a physical phenomenon and implies a metaphysical entity.  There is something divine, something that frees us, in forgetfulness.  If we had flawless memories, our existence would be unbearable.  on the other hand, the interior world of an amnesiac is one of confusion, bewilderment, and terror - a world we cannot completely imagine but which we can intuit in our daily lives.
  Amnesia is  certainty: it is an undeniable presence and essence of our personal and collective worlds.  It evokes - particularly in our day - the human condition, more than ever so tenuous and precarious.  the arts of amnesia are an exaltation of the miracle of human life, which survives, as the scribes said, "as a leaf on a sea of amnesia"  To see that leaf vividly, we must look at the waters of forgetfulness.  Thus we will pierce the blinding dome of our technological supranature, that thick covering of presences and memories, of facts and documentation, that can prevent us from conceiving ourselves in the total context of the universe.
  Amnesia can erase all things, as Plutarch said, and all things can be within it.  It suggests the elemental void of the creatio ex nibilo; for some, it may evoke the vacuity of Nirvana, but such notions are fundamentally colored by inhuman or superhuman assumptions.  Amnesia is everything and nothing, qualities which have been attributed to divinities.  But this divinity (unlike Mallarme's mystical silence) does not dwell in a distant or recondite heaven, but rather within us.  She is a void and a plenitude in our lives.  Memory emphasizes our differences; amnesia illuminates our similarities.  Amnesia does not imply the negation of our memory; it implies the expansion of our consciousness. 
   The written record of mankind is the work of amnesia as much as it is of memory.  A weave of words, of images and traces, testimonies and fables.  Amnesia has always been relevant to our destiny.  History records references to psychological, social, and cultural amnesia.
  Through the webs of memory, we can see the fables of the fountains of amnesia, fresh and sublime, humorous and joyful, traditional and new - a new vision of art, language, and reality.
  We who feel inspired to write, paint, create music, act, dance, or produce films with the gestures of everything we have lost and can never recover or recall sign our names as testimony of everything that has vanished in us.
Barcelona, 1984

@ Nicomedes Suaárez-Arauúz, 1973, 1976, 1984, 1986, 1988.
republished in The Stiffest of the Corpse, edited by Andrei Codrescu
(City Lights Books, 1989)