Join Heaven Gallery at 7PM October 21st to celebrate the opening of Remnants!
Memories, which often divert from facts, shape the way people understand and engage with the world. Memories connected to the physical structures of one’s home and childhood provide a strong anchor linking our personal stories to a coherent self.
Remnants brings together works by artists Nancy Sayavong and Gabriella Willenz. Both bodies of work engage with non-heroic and commonly found elements – the architectural structure as well as interior objects – that make a home. These are understood as mnemonic devices to a rich past. The interest in them lies not in their utility but for the stories they hold and to which they unfold. They have witnessed the formation of specific singular identities through the transference of cultural values, founding myths, ideologies, intergenerational traumas, rituals, and mannerisms.
Sayavong’s body of work, Primetime, draws from the architecture of a house she restored, in a subdivision that was built historically for white working-class families. Alongside replicas of a large arch and door-frame she inserts elements from her own childhood and experience growing up within a working-class Laotian American family. Her sculptures fail to replicate accurately and as stand-ins draw attention to the theatricality of our surroundings.
Willenzs’ installation Original Replica is based on a collection of objects that once belonged to her grandparents: an accidental and un-glamorous collection of family heirlooms. Collaborating with Berkeley Rep’s Prop Supervisor she reproduced these objects as theatrical props. Willienz traces these shifts that occur on the spectrum of original (real) and fake (fictive) according to context, and the gaining and losing of value.
Remnants presents stand-ins, replicas and theatrical sets; surrogates to any original, carrying altered or altogether new narratives. It is not the particular life but the ways our life stories are constructed which the exhibition asks to explore.