Lin Jingjing: “Public Memory 1” – Art Basel Hong Kong 2013


Lin Jingjing’s 2011 work “Public Memory 1” is an impressive panel of 88 photographs, each one measuring 46 by 38 centimeters (18 by 14 3/8 inches).  The photos themselves resemble black and white prints of familiar moments throughout one’s life, from current events to film stills, with various solid colors poured in to wash out the whitespace.  From afar, the piece serves as a collective, somewhat blurred compilation of famous memories stored in one’s head, shaken out onto a large canvas for visual consumption.

A closer look, however, reveals a modern-day Impressionist twist, as select portions of photographic subjects are actually neatly stitched through with thread, obscured by tiny dashes forming horizontal lines.  They represent the idea of how the public recalls, visualizes and even distorts memories over time, and that those fleeting events eventually succumb to color blindness and loss of detail.  Internet immortality aside, there is a bit of a chilling realization when one deduces that this inability to remember 100 percent of publicly-known events could also figure into private personal experiences as time passes.

Lin followed up this work with “Public Memory 2,” which completely strips out the photographs and leaves only the threads.