Industrial field of marble works. Archeological site of a burial ground. For Glorious Times, her exhibition at Karlin Studios, Sári Ember gathered older and new works, variations of faces and figures engraved or sculpted in stone. As the artist is familiar with the genre of portrait, which she transformed so far into various mediums and narrations, creating site-specific monuments and museology scenarios, this time, she chose to focus on one predominant material, the stone.
If engraved surfaces of marble are very easily associated with eternal mementoes, with the heavy weight of one’s inalterable tribute, the implicit homage to the drawn figures vanishes in this context, as one immediately notices the portraits are indistinct, rather abstract, lacking of recognizable traits.
One lying figure resembling greek ancient silhouettes, geometric faces evoking ritual masks, cubist lines or more personal and contemporary references, (one of the sculpted figures reminds shooting targets’ shape). The ensemble of exhibited portraits seems here to quote the long history of human representation in the history of art, or to put it in different words, the artist seems to represent the representation itself, withdrawing the attention from the remembrance of one subject but rather questioning the bare notion of memory.
When walking through the exhibition, the visitor gets a similar feeling as meandering around a foreign cemetery or an archeological site, where empathy and grief are experienced as global background feelings. Indeed, as if the classical portrait is meant to capture and reminisce a memory, which would always survive through its representation, Sári Ember’s portraits seem to have been created for memories which already disappeared, maybe never existed. Glories that never raised shall exist forever.
Ultimately the artist also questions the process of alteration of the representative objects and consequently the alteration of the memory, including forgetting and definite loss as one most possible and natural scenario, when even objects fail to last. When marble eventually breaks, when lines get erased, what is left of the memory without the matter? Obsolete glories shall never be replaced.
The exhibition is supported by Leopold Bloom Award and Maurice Ward Art Handling.
This project was organized in the frame of a residency supported by Visegrad Artist Residency Program – Visual and Sound Arts.
photo: Sári Ember and Tomas Souček