Building a Collective Archive: A Yale Traveler’s Mnemosyne
Building a Collective Archive: A Yale Traveler’s Mnemosyne is a curatorial project that explores the impact and update of personal references in constructing a collective imaginario - a repository of collective imagination. Curated by architects Gabriel Hernández (Fulbright Fellow at Yale/Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) and Alberto Martínez (La Caixa Foundation grant), the exhibition will be on display from 31 August through 6 October 2023 at the North Gallery space at Yale School of Architecture (YSoA), located at the iconic Rudolph Hall in New Haven, Connecticut.
Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory who inspired cultural scientist Aby Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne, provides a symbolic reference for devising a collective archive based on the YSoA community inspired by the italo-brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi’s archival practice. This framework exemplifies a devotion and ritual towards collecting, with an attention to the arrangement and habitual viewing of those objects, characterizing a particular relationship to the act of collecting and constructing memories.
When Bo Bardi migrated from Italy to Brazil in 1946, she carried her inner references through several items collected over decades. Once in her new homeland, her fascination towards local traditions and vernacular culture drove her to acquire new objects, expanding her imaginario. As a result, a porous and mutable archive and unique collection in constant update, blending the stories of migration, travel, curiosity and memory.
In the same spirit, A Yale Traveler’s Mnemosyne invited 18 participants—students, staff, and professors—from within the widely diverse YSoA community to reflect on their act of collecting memories through archival items, paying attention to how travels informs, creates, and expands references. Each participant was assigned an empty wooden case on display at the exhibition to occupy with their collections and archival items.
Lastly, to explore the potential of building a collective YSoA Archive, all items on display were digitized to create video installations that examine the item’s connections through images, such as Warburg’s Atlas Mnemosyne. From the private to the collective, each personal reference becomes planetary when confronted with others by expanding the limits of visual culture and generating collaborative cartography through images. The curators worked with video artist Daedalus Li to create a set of projections that combine and connect images that explore the wide range of grouping possibilities. The video work is projected on both sides of three screens inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s plinths for MASP, creating a non-linear and non-hierarchial promenade through the North Gallery space.
Dominic Oliver Cort
Curation and Exhibition Design:
- Gabriel Hernández
- Alberto Martinez García
Video and Graphic Design:
- Daedalus Li
Sponsors and Supporters:
- Consulate General of Spain in New York
- SPAIN Arts & Culture
- The US-Spain Fulbright Commission
- Yale School of Architecture Exhibitions: the Robert A.M. Stern Fund, the Pickard Chilton Dean’s Resource Fund, the Nitkin Family Dean’s Discretionary Fund in Architecture, the Fred Koetter Exhibitions Fund, the Kibel Foundation Fund, and the James Wilder Green Dean’s Resource Fund.