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Pay Attention to What They Tell You to Forget

Posted on 07/09/2020 at 04:00 PM by Sydney Marshall



Tucked in the Anderson Sculpture Garden there is an installation that provides a quiet space for reflection and to sit amongst the flowers. Through the summer I have frequently sat outside at the picnic tables with Harriet Bart’s public art as the backdrop to my work. Originally installed as Alcoveunder the stairs of Catt Hall, it was later moved to its location in the Anderson Sculpture Garden. Featuring three stacks of bronze books, above which the quote “Pay attention to what they tell you to forget” is engraved in limestone. A small bronze owl overlooks you as you sit on a limestone bench engraved with “Remember.” 

Looking at this installation, often on my laptop working to write exhibition material or catch up on emails, I am reminded of the huge sources of information that we all have access to at all times. However, even with all of these resources, there is great power expressed by which aspects of our historical narratives are given weight in our public art and histories. The limestone engravings of “remember” serves as a personal reminder to look for narratives that seem to be missing from the public view, and to search out information for myself to form opinions and my own views of history- paying attention to what they tell us to forget. 

As the artist created this installation, she wrote a statement about her work and the different elements included.

Harriet Bart, 1995:

“The bronze pilasters function conceptually and visually as part of the supporting architecture of the wall. The symbolic representation of books refers to the ideal that this building, this university, is supported by academic inquiry and achievement, the wealth of knowledge gleaned from books. 

My work is conceptually based. I transpose and transform text and context, form and content, exploring the presentation of the cultural artifact as signified sculptural object. I understand architectural forms to reflect cultural grammars. My installations are cultural recontextualizations that comment on national structures. I seek to consecrate a place, mark an event, or comment on forms of memory in culture.

I am interested in the alchemy of the word, the iconography of text, the labyrinth of the book, the book as a poetic object. I use books in combination with found objects and architectural fragments. I create an architecture and archaeology of history and memory by re-framing books as walls, passage-ways, foundations, and enclosures.”

To read about another work in the Art on Campus Collection that explores this idea of public narratives, read our intern Natalie Beauchaine’s blog post about April 12, 1963 by Bethany Collins.

IMAGE ABOVE: Pay Attention to What They Tell You to Forget, 2011 by Harriet Bart. Located in the Anderson Sculpture Garden. Commissioned by University Museums. Pilasters originally located at Catt Hall, reinstalled in the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden in 2011 as Epilogue; installation and additional sculptural elements funded by Arthur Klein. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2011.318

GROUP OF IMAGES
TOP LEFT: Detail of Pay Attention to What They Tell You To Forget by Harriet Bart.

TOP RIGHT: Owl, 2011 by Harriet Bart. Commissioned by University Museums. Pilasters originally located at Catt Hall, reinstalled in the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden in 2011 as "Epilogue"; installation and additional sculptural elements funded by Arthur Klein. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2011.316

BOTTOM: Remember, 2011 by Harriet Bart. Commissioned by University Museums. Pilasters originally located at Catt Hall, reinstalled in the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden in 2011 as "Epilogue"; installation and additional sculptural elements funded by Arthur Klein. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2011.317

 

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