Matthew Dehaemers
Sculpture - Installation - Public Art

 

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Significance of the Moment

0 MPG Installation

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Significance of the Moment by Matthew Dehaemers
(Dedicated to victims of Alzheimer's disease)



This installation is constructed out of approximately seventy-two pieces of laminated plywood, which was carved and sanded it into a large human head form.  Inside the forehead is a video in which I interviewed approximately twelve individuals recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The video continuously loops every 22 minutes, dissolving from one individuals face to the next while they share a variety of incredible adventures and simple moments from their lives. Moments we can all relate to.

My grandmother who passed away over two years ago inspired this piece.  She had dementia the last few years of her life.  Prior to that she lived a very long and full life. She was a woman full of energy and vitality.  Specifically, I remembered times I spent with her in those last few years when she would recount these very precise and particular memories of the two of us together.  She would recount perfectly every detail and I would on occasion hear the same story weeks later.  But she would recall these wonderful moments regarding both of us but maybe not remembering who I was when she would tell the story.  This multi-media interactive sculpture installation is meant to look at those small but powerfully positive moments, despite the disease of dementia and more specifically Alzheimer's disease. These individuals manage to hold on to and recount for a long time certain important memories, despite the continual erosion of their mind and brain
.

The unexpected 10 foot long drawer is filled with nearly 3,000 white and off-white envelopes, each stuffed with one sheet of paper.  Viewers have the opportunity to interact with this part of the piece.  You have the opportunity to place a small donation in a table size box near the piece and then select an envelope out of the drawer.  You can think of an important memory/story from your life about a certain person or event and write it on the enclosed paper.  When done you can re-file it back in the drawer.  You have the opportunity to read what others have shared.  All donations will go directly to fund Alzheimer's' research through the Alzheimer's Association.  Intermingled among these envelopes are a series of two-dozen tabbed cards.  Individuals have the opportunity to pull these cards and read the various powerful quotes on them about memory, Alzheimer's, as well as statistics about the disease.  In my work, I am always trying to engage the viewer in away that allows them to participate in the piece so that they can walk away with more than just an experience of viewing it. The viewer is able to touch it and add something to the piece--manipulating it while gaining a new awareness, a new perspective on the subject. The unexpectedly long drawer creates this wonderful exaggeration as it extends unsupported out ten feet in space only being anchored by the head that it is attached to.  I wanted to draw an obvious comparison between the smallness of our own physical head and the vast storehouse of our mind.  If we had to fill a drawer with all the memories from our very own life how long would that be physically measured?  It would almost be infinite.

The plywood was chosen because as you carve it, it reveals ring patterns around the features of the face, following the contours of its shape.  These rings symbolically represents the ring patterns that are revealed when a tree is cut down and one observes its trunk.  The rings are the history of that tree--the history of that trees memory...as each of us has our own history and memory. 

Originally commissioned by the Salina Arts Center for the exhibition, Memory

Director: Saralyn Reece Hardy

Special Thanks to the Alzheimer's Association Heartland Chapter for their support and collaboration in this project and those willing to share their stories.