Ruth Barker

Fragments and Doubts



Where Did We Leave The Things We Forgot To Recall?


Essay commissioned to accompany "Not A Disentanglement From But A Progressive Knotting Into"

Exhibition featuring work by Douglas Morland, Steven Anderson and Javier Ferro at LowSalt Gallery, Glasgow. 




“This is just the beginning…. First, they threw stones and smashed all the windows. Then they burnt the garden and then they burnt the house.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Javier Ferro 2007



There is a phrase we use to talk about remembering. We say ‘I called to mind’, as in ‘I called to mind the drawing of a dark wing’ or some other icon. The phrase itself suggests a summoning of absent images into the presence of our conscious thought, and yet this is not the only kind of remembering.


In ancient Greece, the words (or perhaps the ideas) for Truth and for Not Forgetting were synonyms. This may seem a strange conflation of the real and the imagined; the happened and the may-have happened (never happened, dreamt of happening). If a thousand people dream the same dream, they can corroborate that the dream itself happened through the comparison of their memories of it, but can they corroborate a truth of such a dream? If a thousand people dreamt the same dream would anyone ever know? (No one would mention it).


This calls to my mind the question of collective imagination. Or ‘how can a culture (a group of individuals who share something of the same experiences, preconceptions, knowledge) ‘know’ something that is commonly false?’  In Britain we collectively imagine the dragon’s wing, though the beast is mythic; perhaps we also collectively imagine less pictorially represented things that we have likewise never seen, such as neutrinos. Does my neutrino look like yours? If it does where did it come from? If it doesn’t are they both neutrinos? *


Remembering / Imagining is the place where Freud looked hard for repression and sometimes found fantasy. It is a landscape littered with doubt and fragments, intentions and recognition. Sometimes we can share this landscape with those we know. Sometimes we can’t, or sometimes we don’t.



* I can’t believe you don’t know what a neutrino is. A neutrino, (neu·tri·no) is any of three stable, neutral, elementary particles of the lepton family with a zero rest mass and no charge. Of course. But what does one look like?