Bungled Memory

Photography and memory… in popular awareness these two elements are joint
tightly as averse and reverse of one coin. A mirror with memory – this expression
was used in the XIXth century to define an invention of drawing with the sun. Today
as well photography is helping to remember: “I was here”, „I have seen this”, “he
was my friend” one thinks looking through old photo albums.

lIt is not surprising that David Bate uses photography to spin his tale about bungled memories. The cycle „Bungled Memories”, [Zepsute/partackie wspomnienia] is an unpredictable play with the viewer. If a photography is a mirror with memory why are the memories captured by the camera bungled? Who is guilty? Photography or memory? And if memory, then whose?

The play with the viewer is even more complicated because of the language of still life symbols the author uses. In the history of European painting still lives, especially those from the XVIIth century, documented the theme ‘Vanitas’, and were a genre strongly influenced by symbolic meanings. An intellectual concept of this kind of representation was born in the XVIIth century Lejda, place where humanistic traditions and studies of emblems and attributes were cultivated.

In pictures of David Bailly or the Pieter brothers and Herman Steenwijck one can find
various symbols regarding the impermanence of life and material world (for example
faded flowers, bad fruit, wasted books) or the flow of time (for example clocks and burning candles). Other still life representations depicted tables laid with fruit, meat, lemons, wine, lobsters and other victuals symbolizing sophisticated taste. The food was presented in decorative plates, carafes and glasses.

“Bungled Memories”
refer to those sets of forms and symbols: table, glasses, cups, knives, plates, lemons,
wine. Yet in each photograph one of the elements is broken, damaged, overturned.
Ascetic, monochromatic compositions no longer symbolize delight of senses but they
tell about perversity of our memories. A photograph becomes a narrator, the most
unforgiving means of representation.

Agata Chrzanowska
curator: Karolina Lewandowska

Media Art Gallery
ul. Spokojna 15
01-044 Warszawa
gallery curator: Mariusz Dąbrowski
show opening: 9.05, 6 p. m. / (through 31.05)

David Bate
David Bate


David Bate

Education: 1999 – Ph.D,
Fine Art Department,
University of Leeds.

1988 – MA Social History of
Art Fine Art Department,
University of Leeds.

1983 – BA (Hons) Film & Photographic Arts, Polytechnic of Central London.

1980 – Foundation Art,
Portsmouth College of
Art & Design.

Selected solo shows:
2008 – ‘Bungled
Memories’, Hoopers
Gallery, London.

2006 – ‘Zone’, Istanbul Photography Biennale, Istanbul.

2004 – ‘Bungled Memories’
Hobusepea Gallery,
Tallinn, Estonia.

2003 – ‘Zone’ 15th Photography Biennale, Lorient France.

‘Zone’, Archetype, Brussels.

2002 – ‘Zone’ Belfast
Exposed, Belfast, Ireland.

1997 – ‘Trànsit i migració’
(with Wendy McMurdo),
Museu d’Art, Girona,

Selected group shows:
2007 – ‘Bungled
Memories’ Institute for Romance Studies, London.

2005 – ‘Diderot’, Danielle
Arnaud Gallery, London.