Bea Camacho poetic take on memory as forgetting
It’s been a while since anyone has heard of or seen Bea Camacho. For some reason, it feels as if she disappeared in a puff of smoke, after actively exhibiting her work in Manila until 2010. Last month, however, she resurfaced almost suddenly, in a solo show at MO_Space in Bonifacio Global City titled “Memento Obliviscere.”Camacho’s work has always been simple, sparse, yet intense. Conceptual in nature, she often uses ordinary objects and somehow is able to magnify aspects of them, injecting meaning and sentimentality in something that we otherwise might not have thought about at all.
Oftentimes, her work talks of ideas of distance and home. She contemplates on physical distance, having been away from her family in Manila, as well as the security of feeling comfortable. She is most well known for her “Enclose” series, where she would sit through hours-long live performances of her crocheting herself into a cocoon, with one even lasting up to 11 hours.In “Memento Obliviscere,” Camacho now explores the extent and limits of memory. That, as humans, the things we remember inevitably deteriorate. It’s easy to forget things as time goes on and it’s even easier to misremember events, facts, and details. Through quiet gestures, Camacho investigates the qualities of declining memory, the passing of time, and personal identity.Camacho’s work posits that memory is imperfect, despite efforts to keep it intact. She uses objects that often are dedicated to recording memories, highlighting external factors and methods that, while effective, often have the power to manipulate facts and details. In “Memory Apparatus (Typewriters),” she displays three typewriters. We associate typewriters with noting things down, but upon further inspection, we discover that all the letters on the type bar have been removed and therefore these objects can no longer serve their purpose.Opposite to this, she shows newspaper clippings with each word and photo extracted that we are left only with a skeleton of a newspaper, without any idea of what might’ve been the news that day. In the same vein, she exhibits film photography but turned around, that we are only able to see mere remnants of what might have been on the photo, such as what film was used or vague clues to the age of the print.