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In The Immersive Installation Memory Palace, Es Devlin Reminds Us Of Our Past, Present, And Future

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Memory Palace
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London-based artist and stage designer Es Devlin explores human perspective and our relationship to memory in her sculptural piece ‘Memory Palace‘ at Pitzhanger.

Visitors are invited to explore an expansive chronological landscape charting pivotal moments throughout history, which have resulted in shifts in human perspective. Inspired by the Ancient Greek classical mnemonic technique of cataloguing memories within familiar locations, ‘Memory Palace’ is a detailed map carved meticulously from bamboo, materializing memories of key events in history. Filling the entire exhibition space and spanning a total of 18 meters, large-scale mirrors are used to reflect the installation upon itself, creating an immersive environment which offers a unique perspective of time and space. In this 3D map of history, time is traced back seventy-five millennia to the caves in Southern Africa that contain the first known human drawings; moving forward to 1543 and the tower in Frombork, Poland, where Nicholas Copernicus drew the first heliocentric map of the universe; then, to 2018 and the steps of the Swedish parliament where Greta Thunberg began her School Strike for Climate.

In total there are seventy-three momentous events mapped here. This cataloguing of events is a personal and subjective one, chosen as the result of a collaborative process between Devlin and her studio members. In the piece, continued collaboration is encouraged and visitors are invited to immerse themselves within the landscape and reflect upon the ever-changing nature of human history and our place within it. Located in the former house of one of Britain’s most influential architects, Sir John Soane, the artist has also transformed the library of this remarkable building, filling the space with books which have contributed to informing the installation.

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All images © Peter Mallet