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Elisa Markes-Young | Saudade

Location Fourth Gallery
From Saturday 23 January 2021 -  10:00am
To Sunday 11 April 2021 - 04:00pm

The work in this exhibition is part of a new series that is a continuation of my previous bodies of work, “The Strange Quiet of Things Misplaced”, “The Original Place” and a 2018 installation called “Memory of a Memory”. This dealt with memory, the unreliability of our recollections, and the question of what and where is home. In “Memory of a Memory”, the evolving images, each slightly different from its predecessor, alluded to the fact that over time the memory of an event becomes a memory of a memory.

The work in “Saudade” picks up elements of the older work and rearranges them resulting in imagery that is intended to convey the feeling of a bitter-sweet melancholy that the Polish call ‘tęsknota'. The word describes a deeply emotional state and when referring to memories experienced as a longing can be translated as ‘nostalgia'. However, the Portuguese ‘saudade' captures the meaning of ‘tęsknota' much better.

'Nostalgia' is composed of the Greek ‘nostos' meaning homecoming and ‘algia', meaning pain or ache. At first it was used as a medical term to describe homesickness which was understood as a debilitating disease accompanied by nausea, loss of appetite or even severe hallucinations.

Nowadays ‘nostalgia' is used to describe a “sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.” A feeling that can be quite irresistible: We long for the past as we remember it - an unreal and untrue perfectness. Reason can not reach it. It goes beyond reason and creates its own territory, keeping it untouched and unspoilt.

‘Tęsknota' and ‘saudade' also refer to a profound melancholy longing for an absent something or someone. They communicate the feeling of loss, loneliness and incompleteness. It’s an emptiness inside us like something or someone should be there but is missing. There is also subconscious knowledge that the object of our longing might be lost forever. It is a recollection of things that once brought us joy and excitement. The sentiment is difficult to articulate but it is deeply meaningful. Rather than just making us sad it brings sad and happy feelings together: The loss and emptiness make us feel sad, but the fact that we’ve experienced the past makes us happy and provides comfort.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.



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