MEM(ento): Something to make one remember
MEM(oir): A record of a thing to remember
MEM(orandum): A reminder
MEM(orable): Worth remembering
MEM(orabilia): Things worth remembering
MEM(ory): The ability to recall
This project started in early 2015 when I realized how quickly dementia was taking over my father’s mind. Since then, before and after his death in February 2016, I’ve found myself regularly thinking about and researching the topic of memory, bringing it into my practice as an architect and artist. This exhibition is the result of that exploration.
I am told that, seconds before his heart stopped beating, my father yelled out two final words: “I’M READY!” The certainty and clarity of this statement made me realize that, in the last moments of his life, his lucidity was restored. I like to imagine all the memories I thought he had lost suddenly came flooding back into his consciousness.
A friend recently confided that he is afraid of losing his memory. I wonder if perhaps that is what the work in this exhibition is about... a desire to document my own memories before I lose them, through the medium I know best—architecture. Distant as well as more recent architectural memories make cameo appearances in the Memory Houses: the chapel adjacent to an unbuilt winery I designed with my father; the stave churches of Norway and the Great Mosque of Córdoba I experienced as a child; the lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay; the timber grain elevators of the Palouse; the Colosseum and the Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome. Inherent within these diverse structures are the narratives shared with the friends and family who accompanied me.
Robert Hutchison, May 2018
a film by Juan Benavides