Deidre Brollo is an artist who works primarily in the areas of printmaking, artist’s books and installation. She holds a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts, where her research investigated, through a thesis and an exhibition, the role of memory in the viewing of art. She was Visiting Artist at National Art School, Sydney, and curated Noosa Regional Gallery’s artist’s book symposium, The Artist’s Book and the Search for the Impossible. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France and South Korea. Her work is represented in the collections of the State Library of Queensland, Southern Cross University and Manly Library.
A Book for my Guide: The Artist’s Book and the Exploration of Memory
As an object steeped in notions of remembrance, the book is a particularly potent medium for artists to employ when exploring ideas of memory. Historically, descriptions of memory have often relied upon metaphors of the book to articulate memory’s shadowy workings; indeed, the book itself often acts as a symbol of memory. The accumulated weight of the past sits within the pages of countless volumes, burdening innumerable shelves.
However, the book need not act merely as a reservoir of memory, but can be integral to individual acts of spontaneous recollection. It has the capacity to act as a twofold provocation – potentially reviving memories both through its material form and through the performative action of reading. Consequently, the form of the artist’s book is particularly suited to this kind of memory-work. Conceptually and materially, they can offer associative traces to the viewer. Through their haptic and interactive qualities, they can engage our habitual or corporeal memory, providing another potential trigger for recollection. Their often unorthodox structures may engage our hands and bodies in ways that recall gestures and movements not native to the act of reading. Physical engagement can have the additional effect of slowing down the viewing process, creating a necessary pause – a lingering that can allow recollection to surface.
The artist’s book then, can act as a sort of itinerant guide to the underworld of our own memory. It has the potential to trigger acts of recollection, making the act of viewing the artwork concurrently an act of viewing one’s own past Rather than present a fixed narrative, it offers the possibility that narratives be composed and completed by the memories of the viewer, an act of viewing that encompasses both the present moment and a past one, in which individual recollection is brought to bear upon the artwork.