Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness

Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness

California College of the Arts (CCA)

April 3, 2024
Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness
CCA Curatorial Practice Thesis Exhibition
April 26–May 18, 2024
Opening reception: April 26, 6–8pm
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
360 Kansas Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Instagram (College of Arts) / Instagram (Wattis Institute)

California College of the Arts Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice, in partnership with CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, presents Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness, curated by CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice Class of 2024: Samantha Hiura, Megan Kelly, and Sherry Xiang. Featuring work by Widline Cadet, Xandra Ibarra, Michael Jang, Clifford Prince King, and Kenneth Tam.

The artists in Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness use the “hard” forms of installation, video, sculpture, and photography to forge the ‘soft’ archiving of memory, feelings, autobiography, auto-fiction, and the everyday as material. Each artist contributes works that treat everyday, intangible experiences of marginal subjects as material objects, their collective work holding individual narratives. Through their work we ask, how can an archive be soft and how can an exhibition begin to unravel and reconstitute containers of cultural memory?

Participating artists work across mediums to stitch archives and severed histories back together, the presentation of their work gesturing towards a more healing archive. Widline Cadet houses domestic memories in an uncanny re-creation of a family living room, while Clifford Prince King’s constellation-like display of the artist’s photographic recollections of daily life riddle auto-biographical archiving with romanticization and haziness. Kenneth Tam, recently exhibited at BAMPFA, materializes intergenerational healing through his video work, sump, presented adjacent to a previously unexhibited handwritten letter between the artist and his father – both subjects in the video. Meanwhile, Bay Area-based artists Michael Jang and Xandra Ibarra incorporate and reference actual ephemera objects as they refigure biographical archives by re-injecting the personal within them. Jang reanimates his personal archive of photography through the medium of wheatpaste graffiti alongside childhood collections such as MLB collectibles, whereas Ibarra re-works the archive of recently deceased San Francisco-based sex worker and activist Carol Leigh in a previously unexhibited series of photograms. Many of the works are being shown in the Bay Area for the first time. 

Absolute Memory: An Archive of Softness will be on view from April 26 to May 18, 2024 at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. There will be a public opening reception for the exhibition on Friday, April 26, from 6—8 pm. An exhibition catalogue with original essays and interviews by members of the curatorial cohort and commissioned essayist Sloane Holzer, will be available for purchase from the Wattis Institute

On April 27, 2024, from 4–6pm,  the Wattis Institute will host a letter-writing event in collaboration with Survived & Punished, a grass-roots organization dedicated to the defense and care of people imprisoned after surviving domestic violence, to connect participants to California-based incarcerated survivors. This collective letter-writing event aims to foster the soft effects of shared space and shared relationships in contrast to the hardness of the prison system through the power of interpersonal connection. More information for visitors is available on the Wattis Institute website, including information about the exhibition and publication. 

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California College of the Arts (CCA)
April 3, 2024

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