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In the archive of everything

Virginia Baxter

Patrick Pound, Memory Room
Patrick Pound, Memory Room

Walking through Patrick Pound’s photographic installation, The Memory Room, is like entering a stranger’s home in their absence. At the CCP the installation is camped in a corner of the front gallery. At the ACP where I originally saw this work, it feels more like a bed-sitting room in the tiny backspace gallery.

An unmade bed, lamps left on, radio playing, a chattering television balanced on a suitcase, a heater, pieces of clothing, a cup and plate with the remains of a meal. On the floor, scraps of dog food in a bowl. Opposite the bed a wardrobe converts to a desk, a light dangling above what looks like someone’s work, put aside. Should you sit on the chairs, like Goldilocks? Better not. Might be sprung. You decide to take a closer look at the pictures on the walls. Nothing tells you more about people than their debris and the things they collect. The last thing you remember is a photograph of a man holding up a giant carrot.

You have entered the world of Patrick Pound. Hundreds of photographs, along with cartoons, plastic maps, small architectural models, pages from books, 26 Comparisons. Befores and Afters. A collection of brown objects arranged across the floor. Bizarre images. “Bless our Mobile Home”, Jaquie O cutout dolls, stills from The Fountainhead. It goes on. And on. And in. And out. What is going on here? A taxonomy of trivia or a homage to the god of small things? Perec in 3D? Abandon sense all ye who enter here! Jigsaw landscapes. Wax models. A cutting from a newspaper with a photograph of a building in a wilderness—“Lives on hold: Some of the people who have fled to Australia are sent to Woomera Detention Centre in SA which holds 1,026 people.” 1,026. Remember that. Measurements.Transformations. Suddenly, on the wall, a clue! Write it down. Quick!

You think, my boy, you have an obligation to describe everything fallaciously. But still, to describe. You are sadly out in your calculations. You have not enumerated the pebbles, the abandoned chairs. The traces of jism on the blades of grass. The blades of grass. All these people who are wondering what on earth you are driving at may as well get lost in the details or in the garden of your bad faith.

Walking through The Memory Room your mind wanders to the occupant and his (definitely his) whereabouts for a while and then you lose yourself altogether in the detail. While documentary photographers tussle over truth, Patrick Pound conjures the palpable persona of a documenter, then leaves you with the task of making sense (or poetry) of his evidence. He has vacated the room so you can replace him—you being the only solid thing here amongst all these fragments. You are. Aren’t you?

The Memory Room, Patrick Pound, CCP (Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy, Melbourne, April 12-May4; and as part of Peter Hill’s Stranger than Truth, ACP (Australian Centre for Photography), Paddington, Sydney, Jan 4-Feb 10

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 25

© Virginia Baxter; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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