What does a knot tied hundreds of years ago tell us? In the act of remembering and forgetting, what part does the body play? And how do we access the many layers that comprise the mechanisms of memory? Helene Nymann examines these questions in her solo exhibition Knots of Ecphore, which is part of the artist’s extensive research into bodily knowledge, memory, and remembering techniques. The exhibition presents new works in the form of video and glass sculptures as well as collective and audience-generated activities and interviews.
In the video installation Kluddermor (Mesh Mother) three bodies are interwoven in knotty postures, just as in the mesh mother schoolyard game. The movements are inspired by the khipu, an ancient memory tool consisting of a chain-shaped system of knotted strings used by the Incas. Some scholars believe that these knots worked as a counting system, while others perceive the knots as three-dimensional writing—an accumulation of knowledge and stories. The knot shape reoccurs in a series of abstract glass sculptures inspired by the sea slug Aplysia californica, a tiny mollusk that through neurological studies have contributed to the detection of how human beings register and form memories in our nervous system through external stimuli.
Like the sea slug, our bodies are plastic and it is therefore possible to change our patterns of thought and behavior throughout life. Knots of Ecphore reflects our present western linear approach to knowledge, language and memory, and also the systematic absence of the body when it comes to remembering. By inviting the visitor to tie a knot and place it somewhere in the exhibition, Nymann encourages us to think about how we, as individuals remember, but also forget, and what we as a society leave behind for the ones who come after.
Helene Nymann (b. 1982, DK) lives and works in Copenhagen and holds an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London and Malmö Art Academy from 2014. Knots of Ecphore is part of her PhD Memories of Sustainable Futures: Remembering in the Digital Age at the Interacting Minds Centre at the University of Aarhus. Nymann has exhibited in Denmark and internationally, including the New Museum (US), ARoS (DK), Kunsthal Charlottenborg (DK), and MACRO - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (IT).
This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Danish Arts Foundation, Beckett-Fonden, Novo Nordisk Foundation and Arne V. Schlesch's Foundation.