1001, 2004

double letter sized photocopies on medium density fibreboard panels, aluminium profile, 11,8ft. height, 21,7ft. width


1001, the title of Ilka Meyer's large-format wall piece, refers to the oriental tales of Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights - and the black wall with its innumerable white inclusions resembles a night sky with a thousand twinkling stars. The artist's work reaches from the gallery floor to the ceiling and is almost seven metres long, creating the impression that one could immerse oneself in this carpet of black background and white spots, which seem like tracks on a well-travelled street. Yet concealed behind the work Ilka Meyer calls 1001 is neither a gaze upwards into "infinity" nor a "down to earth" view of reality. On the contrary it is a gaze inwards - through and beyond outer coverings. It was the black covers of her notebook that she copied, repeatedly enlarging and recopying them so that the dust cover's small rips and inclusions, as well as defects from the copying process itself, visibly emerge and break through the uniform black as white "imperfections." 1001 copies of the notebook cover were needed to achieve the correct size. (1)

The act of remembering, viewed abstractly, is not dissimilar to that of copying. Studies in the fields of neurobiology and perceptual psychology have described remembering as an act of the context-related recall of traces of past feelings or experiences stored in autobiographical memory.(2) Such feelings are motivations for the repeated act of endowing things with meaning, which we call memory. Remembering also means subjecting experiences to constant reinterpretation, something that is dependent on one's current mood and on external stimuli. The result of this individual memory process - the autobiographical memory - is therefore never the same, but rather stands out through exclusions, reinterpretations, or "blind" spots from its temporary "copies." The copies of the artist's notebook exhibit such "blind spots" that seem almost three-dimensional, and differentiate them from the original they are based on. In an analogy with the act of remembering, these visual symbols stand for the perceptions that we can no longer relive, and which we forget because our memory can no longer place them in the correct context. Today we make notes about things we would like to remember - for example, in a notebook. Stories such as those from One Thousand and One Nights were first kept from oblivion by verbal, and later by written, transmission, and yet the traditional means of conveying the tales of Scheherazade - in recalling and reinterpreting them - produced deviations and alterations of the original.

Anke Hoffmann

(1) The work was first exhibited in 2004 as a site-specific piece in the Nassauischer Kunstverein.
(2) See Hans Markowitsch: Dem Gedächtnis auf der Spur. Vom Erinnern und Vergessen, Darmstadt 2002.