Mother Memory is an object-based performance about memory, repetition, and forgetting. Using altered vinyl records that have been warped by the heat of the sun, images of vinyl records printed on fabric, and an altered record player, I play with these objects as way to explore my mother’s dementia, which causes her to both forget and repeat herself.
Much of the frustration with forgetting and repetition is that it is both a return to and erasure of what we think we already know. Yet, as in repetition in music, each iteration can be unique, and the totality of constant repetition – as in minimalist music, can transform into something that is more than the sum of its parts.
Likewise, forgetting is usually viewed as solely detrimental, but as my mother recalls some of the more bitter memories from growing up as a Black child under Jim Crow, she insists that returning to those memories only keeps one from moving forward. So, during the performance, as a recording plays of my mother recalling memories (which, ironically, has been edited to eliminate the what she already has said) the scratched and warped record becomes a rotating waveform, the arm jumps, the needle skips, the scratchy old sounds repeat themselves, remnants on the surface create eerie noise, all resulting in a beautiful, unintended cacophony.