Memories and Nightmares

Thu, 22/03/2012 - 20:00 - Wed, 30/05/2012 - 20:00 Lottie Davies
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares
Memories and Nightmares

Lottie Davies’ work is concerned with stories, personal histories and identity. Since the dawn of language and conceptual thinking, we have constructed our sense of 'self' from memories, beliefs and 'life-stories'. The tales and myths we tell ourselves and others about ourselves may be redemptive or they may be painful and despairing, but either way, they have intense personal meaning. Although each person's story is inevitably coloured by the accidents and idiosyncrasies of a unique life and sensibility, they are told in conceptual languages of image and narrative which to some extent we all share. In many ways, stories and memories are a uniquely human experience; we have used them for generations to illustrate our lives, to record ourselves for the future, and to make sense of the past.


'Memories and Nightmares' is concerned with nightmares and early childhood memories, and the construction of identity through private interior narrative. At the beginning of 2008, Davies asked several of her friends to write accounts of either an early childhood memory or a nightmare. She used the resulting stories as inspiration for a series of images. In each image, a model stands in for the 'true' subject of the story, thus producing a different insight into the subject's identity in comparison with more direct representations; an image drawn from the intensely private 'internal' life of one individual, which can nevertheless be brought into the light of shared conceptual discourse, and can perhaps speak to the interior life of others. Davies has said of her work, “our understanding of who we are can only be found from a single perspective; our own – no-one can see inside my head, it is only by reporting my thoughts and experiences that I can communicate 'who I am' and 'I felt this'. The memories and nightmares I have collected are part of the wider collection of human stories, and by using them as inspiration for these images I hope to show an inkling of what it might be to witness someone else's internal experience.“

Early childhood memories are particularly fascinating because they as take us as close as we can get to the impossible 'once upon a time'; the very beginning of our stories of our existence in the world. They are where we begin. They are absolutely individual and personal; they are also retold and re-remembered, and the way one person describes the event or time may be different to others' memory of it. What counts for us in the memory, it seems, is ultimately not its reference to the 'objective facts' of a particular moment but its capacity to act as a founding myth, a myth of the creation of the individual person. They are perhaps not even memories but memories of memories, reframed again and again as we revise our own sense of self in response to the threats and demands of the world. In nightmares as in early memories, we sometimes remember a clear narrative, but often what remains in our memories is only a landscape or a texture of feeling. For all their surreal or impossible elements, nightmares share the singularity and the inaccessibility of early memories. It is this paradox which lies behind the ‘Memories and Nightmares’ series.

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