Eduardo Basualdo, Bernardi Roig, Erwin Wurm, Hans Op de Beeck, Diana Fonseca

Proust’s Madeleine: Everyday Anthropocentrism

But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.
- Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust

In Swann’s Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust’s heptalogy titled In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927), the main character wanders around Paris revisiting those spots that connect him to his teenage love. Overwhelmed with sadness, and after having a spoonful of tea where he had previously dipped a madeleine, memories of childhood’s summer in Combray surface.

Proust invokes sensorial memory through objects which are apparently ordinary. To him recollection of this nature is much more effective than voluntary memory. Random and evoking elements allow him to connect with his memories and unite past and present through them. These are no casualties but a pursuit. That is, a deliberate action where the body in its everyday environment finds wormholes to the past.

Far from medieval anthropocentrism, which granted man a direct connection with divine plans, this exhibition pursues a more modern approach derived from the perpetual need of finding our place in the cosmos. With no control over the forces that rule the passing of time, humans either enjoy or endure an existence with a precarious balance, and that provides no certainty of the surrounding reality. It is in the realm of everyday life, of gestures without apparent consequences, where there is room to place human life in the center.

Opposed to existentialism, everyday anthropocentrism aims for introspection navigating through sensorial memory to reference the present. The essence precedes existence and thought precedes reality. The encounter with objects is unpredictable and foreign to nostalgia. Certain triggering elements in these items, which are part of the everyday landscape, will recover that missing part of us. And it will now merge with our present.

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