A perfect tense

Rosanna Albertini about Judy Fiskin’s 

I’LL REMEMBER MAMA      2014, Video:10′

JUDY FISKIN, I'll Remember Mama, still from video, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

JUDY FISKIN, I’ll Remember Mama, still from video, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Present, past, future at once. It’s a memorial, and yet nobody has died. Judy calls it a “pre-memorial.” At this point it’s a mystery novel, a story immersed in taste, courtesy and good manners. They are not junk. Mother and daughter are both strong, passionate women, with the occasional tart tongue. Between them, despite the normal lack of seeing who’s who that is maybe a natural, evolutionary condition for humans of the same family, there is

the issue of civility – a charged word whose former strength has largely left us – towards the inward savor of things. What means have we to integrate that savor into the fabric of our own identity? We need … a courtesy or tact of heart, a tact of sensibility and of intellection which are conjoined at their several roots.*

Think of painted flowers woven in a tablecloth: that’s life. Willing or not, we are one of the threads of the fabric and we will bear visible and hidden features of the family texture while our body is around. Even broken, the thread tickles the brain, wraps the curtain of feelings. It never extinguishes, it’s irritating.

Time and tenses don’t really exist in real life, they are just grammar, and this video is free from measurements or directions. Seeing and not seeing, looking through the dark, the artist’s eye comes to a stop in front of specimens of a living space. Already they have lost their meaning, many frames are empty. Little by little the sense of distance deepens, and the house becomes a doll house, which it was from the beginning but we didn’t know it. Big fingers touch the miniature furniture, les meubles, rococo curly objects made to be moved, constantly, from the winter palace to the summer castle and back. Had they tongues they would speak their own mystery story, the real life of Cecile so carefully hidden by the order of things around her. But these same things, only apparently irrelevant, also protected her. Despite the historical distance, and showing the distance between the two women, the artist shares with us the touching part of the story, she reveals her “taste,” as the eighteenth century people defined it:

Taste is nothing but the art of knowing ourselves in little things and this is very true, but since it is through a texture of little things that life becomes pleasurable, these kind of concerns are very far from being uninteresting; they are the way we learn to fill life with goods that our hands can reach, for all the truth we are able to grasp in them.**

*George Steiner, Real Presences, 1991 ** Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762






Los Angeles, at the Hammer Museum Biennial: “Made in L.A. 2014