text and photos by J. Robertson Miller
2023 September 22
Art exhibits are worth a visit, even ones that may not seem interesting at first glance. You can always learn something if you have an inquiring mind.
This one was absolutely amazing. How do you depict lost memories or what it is like to be lost or not to recognize other people?
Artist Heriberto Gomes aced the challenge of explaining many aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. He made the disease understandable.
And you are given knowledge to help yourself. On two large scrolls that extend from ceiling to floor are lists. One shows lifestyles and conditions associated with the disease. The other scroll gives a list of preventive actions.
The photos show some of the symbolism used. Empty boxes with faded tags depict lost memories. A labyrinth created by white curtains hints at disorientation. A mask, suspended by strings from the ceiling, lets you look through its eye holes to see yourself in a mirror, a blank face surrounded by other blank faces, each mask with a faded label indicating a family or friend. Further along, you peer through a hole to see an empty chair in a dark space.
Video screens, some with earphones, give explanations and information including the genetic component of the disease. Even the layout of the exhibits contributes to the experience: paths curve, the little theater is oval, and neutral colors are used. Well done.
As you exit, approaching the stairs and elevators that lead to the rest of the museum, you see a lone, colorless figure seated at a table with a coffee pot and an empty cup. It’s another symbol, tucked next to the stairs, its back to the door and windows which show the outside world. You may sit in the chair opposite this figure, and think of people you know or contemplate your experience.
The exhibit is thoughtful and empathetic. You leave with greater understanding and knowledge. This is one of the reasons why we go to art exhibitions.