Memory Palace review

4 out of 5 stars
Memory Palace review
© Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Ollie Hammick)

Are memories pink? White Cube’s new show ‘Memory Palace’ – held at its Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard spaces – suggests so.

With the name inspired by the ‘mind palace’ brain-training technique favoured by Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, the multi-artist exhibition is huge. It’s split into six recollection-related themes: Historical, Autobiographical, Traces, Transcription, Collective and Sensory. But the problem is there’s almost too much to take in.

So like a fictional detective, you start to sniff out connections and the obvious one is this: pink. It appears everywhere, from the dark, dusky rose of Christine Ay Tjoe’s ‘Correction About the Meat’ to the wine-stain red of Tracey Emin’s gorgeous nude, ‘I Came Here for You’.

Miroslaw Balka’s installation made up of 900 used soaps, arranged in a chain like a candy necklace totem pole, isn’t pink, but it smells like it is. The saccharine, sterile scent hangs in the air like the ghost of a thousand handwashes past. And pinkest of all is Imi Knoebel’s ‘Ort-Rosa’, a blank expanse of birthday-cake-icing.

Rose-tinted? Not quite. Barbie would be shocked to see her fave colour used as the link between so many dark, complex and interrogatory works of art. Never is it more true than with the spindly, gothicy sculptures and wall-based works of Anselm Kiefer. In ‘Montsalvat’, decaying wheelchairs crush each other in a stack resembling the aftermath of an atrocity. And at the centre of it all? A single, dainty conical flask holding an inch of thick, hot-pink liquid.

By: Rosemary Waugh


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