Memory and its processes have in recent years become increasing prominent in the exploration of the preconditions of human creativity and problem solving. Open Storage – Remembering for the Future is the main exhibition at the Pori Art Museum during the centenary of Finnish independence, Finland 100. The exhibition highlights the past and the present as both sources and facilitators of the future. Investigating art and the art museum as an institution in surprising and novel ways, the exhibition features a display of the museum collections in its main gallery, Hall. Eschewing conventional exhibition concepts, the show instead presents a layered whole that consists of processes and which gives the public a glimpse into the core of museum work: the management of collections and archives. It also highlights the complexities of the constant flux of phenomena in art and the history of interpretation and reinterpretation over the decades.
The individual as the subject who experiences, sees, hears and interprets events has often been ignored in historical research, which has instead traditionally relied on archival sources. The increasing prominence in the past few decades of research methods based on oral history has nevertheless underlined the significance of subjective information, both its interpretation and its potentiality. The volume of source materials applicable in research has grown, and its use has diversified. While a work of art in a museum collection represents the world of art, it is also a document, an original source of material. However, the way it functions as a source is not based primarily on the ‘facts’ that it represents, records or documents. It is instead a facilitator of interpretations and emotional and intellectual responses and a route on the path of subjective human existence.
The dual role of the artwork as both an original source and the foundation for ever-changing interpretations of itself intermingles the past and the present in fruitful and interesting ways. Viewers become aware of their own active role as producers of knowledge and content, of meanings and interpretations. Information relating to the date of the work’s creation and contemporaneous interpretations – all these are recounted and examined from the temporal horizon of the current moment of viewing, using the instruments and interpretative concepts of the present. This is the case irrespective of whether the work being examined was made years, decades or even centuries ago and originates possibly from a completely different environment. Within the encounter between a work of art and its viewer, the past manifests itself as an interpretation, a process that unfolds in the present, unique and contingent to each moment and the participants.
As well, the patterns of understanding and interpreting of everyday life change surreptitiously, like those of art. Some patterns have been completely altered or replaced by new ones. Yesterday was, indeed, different. In the midst of rapid change, museums of the digital age are increasingly feeling the burden of their dual role in the present – their responsibility for recording the past and building the future, for presenting rapidly evolving, and in many ways increasingly technological, art. Open Storage – Remembering for the Future will be mounted in stages during the spring and will open in its entirety on 1 June 2017.