By Nick Dunne
Che Kothari, a 2005 Ryerson Image Arts grad, explores the concept of memory in “10 for 10th — Memory Lane,” a multimedia project he curated for Nuit Blanche this year.
After presenting a curatorial thesis for Nuit Blanche, Kothari conceptualized the project’s theme. “I think that [the interest of] Memory Lane is the nostalgia, but in a way that can be interpreted in a wide way by different artists,” said City of Toronto Cultural Events Programming Manager Kristine Germann. The Eyeopener talked to Kothari about the project.
What was the process of curating these installations and art?
They told me they reached out to maybe 10 people. It was a great honour to be one of a very select few to be able to compose an idea. When I found out it was the 10th edition, I thought about the idea of memory. Looking back, but also looking at the future.
This is a platform for other artists. My art this time is the curation.
What do you think is so important about the idea of memory?
Imagine if you had no memory. You would constantly be living in the present. But to me, the greatest achievement is to live in the present but carry memories with us. They surround us from our own internal DNA, to carrying from one generation to the next or even some people believe past lives, all into a collective memory. Think about that collective beyond race, class, gender, age, language. My exhibition celebrates that.
Do you think the pieces deliver a message about memory?
They’re individual and collective. You have personal to literal, to things that blur space, time and reality. It’s a range of things that come together to say we exist in today’s reality. We are layered in everything that has come before us.
Some exhibits rely heavily on light. Do you think there’s a relation between light and memory?
The way we perceive some things is by light. If you take a photograph, which is one way to capture memory, it relies on light. The way a memory is created is, in any event, if it’s a significant event whether it’s positive or negative, it can leave a lasting effect, become one of the stronger memories we have, versus something that may come and fade away. But it’s actually going in and delving into these deep memories we have that actually are a lens in front of our eyes. Every experience we have now is through that lens in front of our eyes. They start to be the pillars of who we are. Once we discover these we can reshape those to become our freest selves.
What impact did RU have on you?
It was in the vibrancy of downtown Toronto. The impact of having a space where I could come together with others exploring their creativity and being able to bounce off my early ideas of who I was as an artist was very fertile grounds for the ideas that would come to be.
*Questions and answers have been shortened and edited for clarity.