An Object is just an Object, or is it?

A comparative examination of the selected artworks ‘Present Tense’ (1996) by Mona Hatoum and ‘Personnes’ (2010) by Christian Boltanski; in relation to the philosophical context of Involuntary Memory and Collective Memory theorised by Marcel Proust and Maurice Halbwachs.


| Hatoum | Boltanski | Involuntary Memory | Collective Memory | Objects | Halbwachs | Proust |


Using qualitative research methodologies, a critical examination of the philosophical framework of memory theory defined by Marcel Proust and Maurice Halbwachs will be demonstrated. Documentary Analysis of historical texts will provide supporting evidence of the fundamental principles of the Proustian theory of involuntary memory recall and the established Halbwachs theory of collective memory.

Observational Evidence ascertained from independent observations of personal experience and autobiographical remembrances outlined in the published book, ‘Evocative Objects’ (Turkle, 2011). This will adequately demonstrate the key concept that personal memories become more compelling within a social context.

Reasonable consideration properly applied to the intellectual argument that personal involuntary memories can spontaneously appear through direct or indirect interaction with insignificant, familiar objects.

Evidentiary material will be systematically derived from a comprehensive contextualisation of the key artworks; ‘Present Tense’ (1996) by Mona Hatoum and ‘Personnes’ (2010) by Christian Boltanski in direct relation to the aforementioned philosophical theories. This will properly support the fundamental notion that practising artists can consciously elicit an involuntary response in the intended audience; whilst properly maintaining the critical context of a wider social/cultural remembrance of historical events.

This will mutually support the prevailing Halbwachs theory plausibly suggesting personal memory exclusively exists within a social framework. Suggesting the spontaneous response experienced when interacting with the considered artworks becomes more profound in a broader social context of the cultural history and the social community.

Sufficiently demonstrating personal associations with such commonplace objects are also influenced by the collective memory of our local community and the social framework where it ordinarily resides. That seemingly irrelevant, yet commonplace objects can be utilised in a completed artwork as extra sensory triggers becoming characteristically memorable when put into a wider critical context of a historical event.

Reflection of personal experiences and creative process will further establish evidence to support the theories of involuntary memory and collective memory theorised by Proust and Halbwachs.


With a lifelong preoccupation with familiar objects ordinarily overlooked and a prevailing tendency to carefully collect and attentively treasure random objects. My enduring fascination with the considerable power the mundane object can exert over us has naturally become a direct inspiration to my created artwork and the basis for this academic research.

‘Most objects exert their holding power because of the particular moment and circumstance in which they come into the authors life. Some, however seem intrinsically evocative – for example, those with a quality we might call uncanny.’ (Turkle, 2011, p. 8).

With no outward apparent significance or specific meaning, these random commonplace objects undoubtedly possess a deep connection with our ordinary lives. Creative artists consciously seek to draw out meaningful connections made with these familiar objects in their creative process. This is to illicit an involuntary extra-sensory response in the intended audience and associate with a broader social context.

We typically establish observed associations with familiar objects naturally creating personal memories. These established associations are also influenced by the wider community that we live in, and personal memories can become altered by generational story-telling and historical recollection of cultural events.

When we invariably observe our potential associations with those familiar objects, we can subsequently identify the deeper connections we vicariously experience with commonplace objects. These independent observations, however, can be subtly altered by the widely held beliefs and local stories of our social community.

It is precisely this intellectual curiosity that naturally prompted the fundamental question of memory theory in direct relation to existing artworks. A subsequent documentary analysis was properly completed of historical texts that carefully discusses the two philosophical theories, Involuntary Memory by Marcel Proust and Collective Memory by Maurice Halbwachs.


Involuntary Memory

When performing this documentary analysis, it became apparent that the specific term Involuntary Memory was first discussed by Marcel Proust, the French Novelist in his novel ‘À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past). This seminal novel, considered to be undoubtedly his most prominent work was consistently written in earnest between the consecutive years 1913 and 1927. The specific volume that properly discusses the most famous reference to Proust’s memorable Madeline moment was Swann’s Way, first published in 1913.

When eagerly eating a tea-soaked Madeline cake, Proust involuntarily remembered a childhood incident with his dear aunt and his childhood home. The Madeleine acts as a personal memento involuntarily accentuating his previously obscured correlations between his heightened senses, emotional perceptions and his own subconscious mind. Fondly recalling these childhood events naturally led him to reasonably consider these experiences as involuntary memories. Proust advocates that our forgotten memories are buried somewhere deep beyond our conscious minds. He suggests these concealed associations with the unremembered past can spontaneously resurface through our unique interactions with material objects.

Involuntary memory or Proustian memory typically occurs when spontaneous observances in our typical lives invoke a distinct recollection of a previous event, specific person or a certain memory without any conscious effort whatsoever. Different to voluntary memory where conscious recall invariably brings about the specific memory, these recollections instinctively appear as a direct response to an extra-sensory stimulus.

In this novel, Proust wistfully recalls his own involuntary olfactory response to certain intoxicating smells. In one prime example, the ominous odour of varnish permeating the stairwell. A seemingly ordinary odour that invariably produced the rapid onset of daily anguish as he anxiously anticipated his nightly interaction with the foreboding stairwell.

‘It was the converse of this relief which I felt when my anguish at having to go up to my room invaded my consciousness in a manner infinitely more rapid, instantaneous almost, a manner at once insidious and brutal, through the inhalation—far more poisonous than moral penetration—of the smell of varnish peculiar to that staircase.’ (Proust, 1913, p. 31)

This specific reference naturally prompted some considerable reflection on my own distinct recollections.  I clearly remember visiting the countryside home of my great aunt the precise instant I pleasantly smell Sweet Peas. She regularly had a long hedge carefully planted with Sweet Peas along her long driveway. Also, the unmistakable aroma of cigarette smoke constantly evokes an unpleasant reaction in me. This undesirable childhood recollection of passively smoking in our family car and the suffocating feelings that it invariably produced in me.

Spontaneous stimulation of our intuitive senses can invoke distinct memories from our forgotten past. Indeed, our subconscious associations we typically establish with familiar objects around us can also invoke these involuntary memories on direct or indirect interaction.

The published book ‘The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories’ (Campen, 2014) comprehensively describes an extensive series of controlled experiments efficiently performed to adequately support the philosophical theory of Proustian Memory. He plausibly suggests the cognitive stimulation of the olfactory sense is undoubtedly the most powerful. Emphasising that it is more powerful than the direct stimulation of any of the other senses in direct relation to the involuntary recall of Proust’s autobiographical memory.

He continues to state that indicators of the recognised Proust effect can be specifically located in the physiological composition of the hippocampus. The sensory centres in the active brain are properly governed by the hippocampus which records memory pathways for sensory events. These complex pathways traverse various areas of the brain responsible for diverse types of sensory information. He also asserts that with sensory stimulation the hippocampus consequently activates entire memory pathways; subsequently triggering an involuntary remembrance uniquely associated with that particular stimulus. In close proximity to the hippocampus lies the amygdala is furthermore said to play a role in emotional memory; assessing emotional significance of remembered events.

‘We can now also answer the question of why smells evoke more emotional childhood memories than other sensory stimuli. The brain scans of the participants in the experiments by Herz et al. described earlier showed that smell stimuli stimulate the amygdalae and the hippocampus more powerfully than images. The answer to this question is there that the amygdalae are situated closer to the areas of the brain responsible for smell and taste than to the areas responsible for vision, hearing and touch.’ (Campen and Ross, 2014)

With age, our personal memories typically begin to diminish gradually, we naturally need continued reflection with the collective community to properly maintain ongoing remembrance. These ambiguous associations we attach to are not only dependent on extra-sensory perceptions, but also our social connections with our local community. Without the community recollection and remembrance these precious memories can, for some become more blurred throughout the advancing years.

Collective Memory

I established that the importance of placing our personal memories within a social context was first established by the French Philosopher and Sociologist, Maurice Halbwachs. Primarily recognised for progressively developing the philosophical concept of Collective Memory, this was first expressed in his book ‘La Mémoire Collective’ (Halbwachs, 1950).

Halbwachs fundamentally believed our individual memories not only contribute to our personal identity but our proper place in civilized society, within a social collective framework. He established the notion that although unique, our personal memories are naturally influenced by the overall memory of the social group we possess ideologic affinity with at the time, and our unique understanding of the historic past is intrinsically linked to the group recollection. Plausibly suggesting that the conscious mind will seemingly reconstruct our forgotten memories based on the confines of acceptable societalinfluence.

‘Society from time to time obligates people not just to reproduce in thought previous events of their lives, but also to touch them up, to shorten them, or to complete them so that, however convinced we are that our memories are exact, we give them a prestige that reality did not possess.’ (Halbwachs and Coser, 1992, p. 51)

Therefore, he establishes individual, personal memories are intrinsically linked to fundamental beliefs, social concepts or prevailing ideas universally adopted by countless others. We constantly evaluate and objectively compare our personal memories with the collective so that we may validate our independent recollections. Apfelbaum succinctly describes this social interaction in the specific context of the social psychological theories of Maurice Halbwachs, the French Philosopher and Sociologist.

‘This collective memory provides the frame within which (or against which) individuals try to make sense of their own personal experiences. Individual and collective memory are thus dialectically related; our experiences and private recollections are continuously evaluated and shaped by confrontations with collective memory, which confer legitimacy on our memory: ‘‘I have shown that memory is a collective function….. If recollections reappear, this is because at each moment society possesses the necessary means to reproduce them.’ (Apfelbaum, 2010, p. 85)

Although it can be believably implied, that collective memory and historical memory are the same; Halbwachs clearly differentiates between them by the measurable depth of understanding and distinct quality of accurate recollection with which one can conscientiously recreate the specific remembrances. He refers unambiguously to social history as an abstract knowledge of notable events from the historical past which have been merely learned, perhaps from reading about cultural history.

Halbwachs also states that with collective memory, historical or cultural events are not necessarily recalled from direct experience but through in-direct ways; reading about one’s cultural history; listening to local, familiar stories passed down through countless generations; commemorative events or festive occasions where the social community traditionally gathers to fondly remember the remarkable achievements of local community members long since passed.

‘Collective memory is intimately tied to a particular group, since it is the product of the group’s own past experiences. Halbwachs’ focus on past lived experience and his description of collective memory as part of a group’s identity are interrelated, because personal identity is closely tied to this particular kind of memory.’ (Russell, 2006, pp. 792-804)

The social generation currently identifies with a collective thought and historical remembrance. These historical recollections are firmly established in the cultural past by our social communities that re-enact events that would otherwise gradually disappear and become forgotten by all. Hutton also epitomises collective memory an ‘elaborate network of social mores, values and ideals that marks out the dimensions of our imaginations according to the attitudes of the social groups to which we relate.’ (Hutton, 1993)

Evocative Objects

An independent review of the autobiographical remembrances of particular familiar objects and their significance in the published book Evocative Objects (Turkle, 2011) provides key observations of the principles associated with involuntary memory, first introduced by Marcel Proust. Each individual author attentively examines the established connections with their chosen objects and the conscious thoughts, expressed and unexpressed feelings and their complex involuntary emotions that these treasured objects invoke.

Turkle speaks enthusiastically of the direct associations we typically place on familiar objects with our close friends and beloved relatives who are no longer in our local community. This emphasises the constraints of our society that influence our recollections, a notion of collective memory first theorised by Maurice Halbwach.

We intimately connect familiar objects to specific situations, particular people and certain historical, social or cultural events that have been a part of our social community. Turkle reflects that ‘…objects are naturally evocative because of the blurry childhood line between self and the other’ (Turkle 2011, p. 8).

Our continued association with recognisable objects is undeniably on a deep and personal level, integrating our conscious thoughts with our heart-felt feelings. Indeed, with some treasured objects it may be hard to sufficiently separate the life force of the specific object from one’s own life force. We sometimes believing these sacred objects to be lucky or totems, comfortably providing us with an at-oneness with the chosen object.

‘As a mohair-covered, stuffed, jointed toy, with movable arms, legs and head, a teddy bear can be cradled and hugged like a baby. But the wild bear referenced by the toy is an animal that can be threatening to human beings. Having a ferocious guardian at one’s side makes the teddy into a symbol of protective aggression, which is why, for the past hundred years, it has provided solace to frightened children and later to adults, who carry that comfort with them as a cherished memory.’(Alphen, 2014)

Turkle associates the involuntary remembrances first suggested by Proust with familiar objects; positively asserting that these remembrances form part of the collective memory suggested by Halbwachs; established connections with the broader social community and distinct recollections passed down through countless generations. This further prompted documentary analysis and independent investigation to sufficiently establish further evidence to adequately support this credible claim.

Personal Observations

I thoughtfully continued reflecting deeply on my own personal experience after memory loss in recent years after an extended period of chronic illness. This only became apparent to me after certain social events had been recounted to me by my close friends and beloved relatives. These notable events I surprisingly experience no distinct recollection of whatsoever. As I have gradually recovered from this considerable period of ill health, there are now lasting memories that I invariably have of these social events. These are intrinsically linked with the adopted stories and accounts retold to me by others.

The unexpected experience of memory loss has undoubtedly become a significant inspiration for my creative process. My specific focus for some considerable time has been typically about thoughtfully creating awareness of historical events from the cultural past. Focussing on collective memories of such notable events are diminishing with the continuous passing of countless years and the gradual loss of the affected generation. Until this specific period of academic research, I felt very much that my creative process typically comprised a cultural narrative, a re-telling of historical social and cultural experiences.

More recently I have sought to bring my own curiosity of objects and the power we allow them to exert over us into my artwork. This has enabled me to investigate the ordinary, overlooked aspects of historical events. Using simple household objects provided practical means to progressively develop my creative process further. Since embarking on this independent research, I now envisage a clear connection with the ‘small memory’ the involuntary remembrances invoked by the extra-sensory response to the created artworks I have produced.

Consistently developing my creative practice, I currently consciously attempt producing the fundamental essence of ‘small memory’ in my produced artwork. That direct stimulation of involuntary recollection has consequently become a key impetus.

This overriding intention properly relates these involuntary small memories to a dominant theme of ‘large memory’ that properly addresses the published recollections of historical events within a social community. Thus, potentially eliciting further response from the potential audience. This thoughtfully provides a possible method for them to potentially interpret the presented objects n direct relation to their own distinct recollections.

Prominent artists will frequently use found objects within a creative piece to actively stimulate the discerning viewer’s potential interaction. This direct interaction can subsequently appear in many distinct forms and often the intuitive senses are intentionally stimulated to invariably produce a memorable response in the observing viewer.

Present Tense (1996) by Mona Hatoum

I identified two specific artworks that adequately support the philosophical theories of Proust and Halbwachs; ‘Present Tense’ (1996) by Mona Hatoum and ‘Personnes’ (2010) by Christian Boltanski. These selected artworks convincingly demonstrate the perceptual ability to invoke involuntary memory recall in the attentive viewer. They also maintain the historical narrative found through the cultural practice of generational story-telling.

A gracious invitation to Mona Hatoum from the Anadiel Gallery in Jerusalem (Figure 1) resulted in the subsequent on-site production of the symbolic piece ‘Present Tense’ (1996), more recently acquired by the Tate Gallery in 2013.

A precise, practical arrangement of over 2000 unique pieces of traditionally produced Nablus soap that historically retains considerable symbolic meaning to the Palestinian community and accurately reflects an ongoing political situation in Palestine.

The handmade soap itself may seem an inconsequential commonplace object. Yet to both the local and displaced people of Palestine it traditionally holds significant historical context. Traditional manufacture of Nablus soap began in the 10thCentury in the city of Nablus and has progressively diminished over many years as a result of inevitable disaster or continuous occupation.

Faithfully reflecting the historical endurance and indefatigable perseverance of the Palestinian people, invoking recollections and cultural remembrance, naturally occurring for the audience through the intuitive senses of sight and smell.

The distinct smell of the mild scented soap permeated the immediate atmosphere adjacent to the significant sculpture. Invariably becoming a potent trigger for poignant recollection of long-held memories and profound emotions of a remembered time and a familiar place that no longer exists.

With recognisable remembrance of the familiar smell of this olive-oil soap is intimately intertwined with their own direct memories. Invariably comes an accurate recollection of historical events. These may not have been experienced directly, but through historical commemoration and cultural celebrations of historical events gone by.

For others, with no direct connections to Palestine, this distinct smell will invoke contrasting memories and complex emotions naturally relating to their own life experiences and social history. When properly understanding the cultural significance behind the handmade Nablus soap, a different set of visible emotions may typically arise, from a compassionate place of cognitive empathy.

Irrespective of the cultural background of the discerning viewer, the compelling smell of the olive-oil soap will invoke a sensory interaction with the final artwork. The subconscious will consistently attempt comprehensive understanding of the social experience by reasonably relating their personal memories and independent recollections with that of the collective. Linking with the historical remembrance of their social community positively establishes their personal experiences and personal memories within a social framework.

Hatoum established strong cultural and historical associations with the Palestinian identity by imprinting the laid-out soap with a political map based on the Oslo Agreement (Figure 2). She intentionally created this symbolic representation of the Palestinian resistance to the official borders rigorously defined by this government agreement.

‘For viewers of ‘Present Tense’ in 1996, the spread of the smell of the soap throughout the gallery in occupied East Jerusalem – for Palestinians an emotionally charged place – may not only have activated memories, but may also have intensified longing for the homeland that was taken from them. This longing may have been accompanied by a feeling of sadness because the homeland, as they knew it, no longer existed. The integration of the map of Oslo accords must have only enhanced that feeling, as it shows fragmented Palestinian Territories. Hatoum activated the senses of Palestinian viewers with the scent of this work, which, along with the map of the Oslo Accords, may have caused a reliving of personal and cultural memories of Palestinian history and the loss of homeland.’ (Goudeau, Verhoeven and Weijers, 2014)

Throughout her extensive career, Hatoum has carefully considered the multi-sensory experience of the potential viewer during her creative process. She convincingly demonstrates the importance of invoking a psychological and emotional response in what she unambiguously identifies as the visible embodiment of personal memory.

‘…bodies, home, place, and displacement, we are confronted with a visceral reminder of how the body remembers: the food we eat, the objects we take in with our eyes, the smells we sniff, the traumas we experience.’ (Brophy and Hladki, 2014, p. 165).

Hatoum’s careful consideration of the sensory effect efficiently supports the Proustian Phenomenon, involuntary autobiographical memories are triggered suddenly by a sensory perception. Olfactory perceptions are relatively considered to instantly convey a deeper sense of evident emotion and more pertinent detail in memory recall than any other sense.

For those with a personal and direct connection with Palestine, the commissioned artwork ‘Present Tense’ may invoke collective memories of cultural remembrance traditionally passed through innumerable generations, supporting Halbwachs theory of Collective Memory. Yet those who do not have that direct connection with Palestine may still experience a distinct personal remembrance, albeit abstract and historical, rather than a collective memory.

Personnes (2010) by Christian Boltanski

The artist Christian Boltanski routinely adopts familiar objects in his completed artworks to invoke involuntary memories that intimately relate to specific community groups and historical remembrances. He deliberately reveals seemingly irrelevant objects as historical and significant where unconscious associations are established through individual relationships with these contrived artefacts and the implied circumstances.

The selected artwork ‘Personnes’ (2010) otherwise known as Clothes as Bodies was first displayed in Paris at the Grand Palais. The chosen name of this unique piece when translated into standard English is either People or Nobody if pronounced ‘Personne’. Powerfully suggesting people who no longer exist, leaving only their well-worn clothes, familiar essential objects to commemorate them.

In implied reference to the Nazi death camps, this dehumanising, powerful artwork jolts the intuitive senses bringing to the surface both emotional and psychological responses for the discerning viewer. An evocative piece that invokes both personal memories in the critical context of the collective and historical remembrance.

Sixty-nine ‘camps’ (Figure 3) and a hauntingly symbolic mountain of many tonnes of used, discarded clothes, each particular piece of clothing representing and individual person. The massive size of the formidable pile of well-worn clothes emphasising the countless people long since gone. Each forsaken piece of dishevelled clothing reverently placed at the highest point of the overwhelming pile to symbolise a supported return to a higher place for their dear souls.

One can instantly see the cultural metaphor for all of the missing people that the forsaken clothes ostensibly represent. On closer inspection it is clearly evident that these carefully laid out castoff clothes belong to both young and old alike. The appear as they have been arranged as they would in an organised mass grave or for proper identification.

Each individual piece of worn-out clothing sadly representing one particular person and their extensive lifetime of conscious memories, yet the collective prominently representing the social group as a coherent whole. The overwhelming impression of the sheer enormity of the dear lives seemingly gone and their unique stories yet to be eloquently shared.

‘Moreover, Indexical objects such as clothing and photographs represent what Boltanski terms ‘small memory’, the sort of object which distinguishes people’s lives from each other’s and harbours memory but which is lost with each individual death. But Boltanski is also aware of ‘large memory’ and simultaneously translates the specificity of the clothes having been worn by a particular person into a larger abstraction on the themes of death and memory.’ (Gibbons, 2007, p. 78)

Boltanski fully intended to appropriately include extra-sensory stimulation as a key aspect of the completed exhibit. He cleverly used his powerful imagery along with sound recordings of heartbeats from the separate artwork, ‘Les Archives du Cœur’ otherwise known as ‘The Heart Archive’ poignantly bringing a deeper sense of emotion to the overall exhibit. It was important to him that the acquired clothes preferentially used in ‘Personnes’ naturally had a musty odour.

In a structured interview with Museo Magazine (Rosenbaum-Kranson, 2010). Boltanski eloquently expressed his genuine disappointment at the distinct lack of a familiar but unpleasant odour, succinctly describing the primary importance of odour for complete immersion in the produced artwork. He further emphasises the complex relationship that odour has with the discernible effects on the physical body and the profound effect on the olfactory sense, supporting Proust’s theory of involuntary memory. This was absolutely intended to powerfully stimulate the attentive viewer of the exhibition further and invoke involuntary memory recall.

‘I refused the heat, and it was terribly cold. I hope that the smell can be here, but I’m not sure that the clothes are going to smell. It’s important for me to work with cold, or to work with smell. When you are cold, you are inside the work. If it smells, you are inside the work. If it’s very noisy, you are inside the work. And it’s this idea of being inside the work that is important to me.’ (Rosenbaum-Kranson, 2010)

In an interview with Artspace, Christian Boltanski describes the commodification of objects in the Western culture where the importance of the object becomes paramount, not because of the object itself but because of the context it has been placed in and the story behind the completed artwork. He asserts ‘it’s not important to keep the object, but what is of value is knowing the idea or story behind it.’ (Artspace, 2017)

Boltanski often uses objects in the artworks he produces and in an interview with Apollo Magazine, he also describes how he uses objects that have become redundant to their previous owners describing the break away from its previous owner as ‘sometimes have a second life (in a charity shop or an art installation); or it can float in the world, ghostlike and redundant.’ (Bickerton, 2018)

For the exhibition viewer who rightfully belongs to the social group closely affected by such unspeakable atrocities, the involuntary recollection of personal memories will be overwhelming and powerful. Yet for those not connected to this social group, a historical recollection of these cultural events shared by the modern media that are still connected to the greater collective memory of the social group through the compelling stories that have been candidly told.


The overall intention was to properly establish a contextual link between the selected artworks and philosophical theories of involuntary and collective memory, adequately providing supporting evidence using qualitative research methods. This philosophical enquiry was first inspired by a personal interest in the considerable importance we naturally place on familiar objects and further reflection on a specific book, ‘Evocative Objects’ (Turkle, 2011).

The selected artworks, ‘Present Tense’ (1996) by Mona Hatoum and ‘Personnes’ (2010) by Christian Boltanski; these amply demonstrate the philosophical theories, Involuntary Memory introduced by Marcel Proust and Collective Memory introduced by Maurice Halbwachs.

Carefully attempting to properly integrate these two key concepts, sufficient provision of the following supporting evidence has been applied; further supporting Proust’s philosophical theory of involuntary memory and the fundamental concept that this can only exist within the Halbwachs social theory of Collective Memory.

Firstly, the widely believed notion that our sensory organs can typically produce an involuntary memory recall. Secondly that any memory recall can only exist within a social framework of the collective. Both selected artists produce work that interacts appropriately with extra-sensory perception. They invoke distinct recollection of specific memory in their potential audience and reliably produce significant artworks of historical relevance to the collective community.

The qualitative research included documentary analysis, independent observations of selected artworks and conscious reflections of my own personal experiences of the selected theoretical frameworks. Substantial observational evidence has been put forward from the selected artworks and key observations of my own creative practice. Ongoing learning established as a result of this academic research has also been discussed.

The gradual process of properly research, writing, independent observation and conscious reflection has naturally inspired further reflection into my own creative process. This has adequately provided a deeper understanding of the contextual associations that can be sufficiently established within a creative piece.

This has undoubtedly encouraged me to properly consider the extra-sensory perceptions of the intended audience. Adequately providing me with an effective means to intentionally create additional depth within a created artwork through the direct stimulation of the intuitive senses.

This has seamlessly allowed me the possible opportunity to properly extend my current thinking further. Undoubtedly constituting the factual basis for ongoing inspiration reasonably relating to my current creative practice. I had initially envisaged my creative practice framed within a narrative context and have undoubtedly gained a deeper understanding for the philosophical context for my creative practice.

More specifically this creative research process has amply provided me with the valuable opportunity to consciously reflect deeply on the potential interaction with the intended audience. It has undoubtedly inspired me to consider the possibility of invoking an involuntary memory recall within the attentive viewer; whilst carefully maintaining the specific context of the created artwork within the social boundaries of a collective recollection.


Figure 1. Hatoum, M. (1996). Present Tense. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem[Photo courtesy Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem (Issa Freij)] Available at:

Figure 2. Hatoum, M. (1996). Present Tense. Installation view at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem[Photo courtesy Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem (Issa Freij)] Available at:

Figure 3. Boltanski, C. (2010). Personnes. Monumenta 2010 Portfolio[Photograph] Available at:


Alphen, E. (2009). Visual Archives and the Holocaust: Christian Boltanski, Ydessa Hendeles and Peter Forgacs. Intercultural Aesthetics, pp.137-155.

Alphen, E. (2014). Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media. Reaktion Books. (1996). Mona Hatoum | Anadiel. [online] Available at:[Accessed 17 Aug. 2019].

Apfelbaum, E. (2010). Halbwachs and the Social Properties of Memory. [online] Available at:[Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].

Bickerton, E. (2018). Christian Boltanski expands his repertoire | Apollo Magazine. [online] Apollo Magazine. Available at:[Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

Bilsel, C. (2017). Architecture and the Social Frameworks of Memory: A Postscript to Maurice Halbwachs’ “Collective Memory.” Iconarp International J. of Architecture and Planning, 5(1), pp.01-09.

Boltanski, C. (2010). Personnes. [Discarded Clothes] Paris: Monumenta 2010, Grand Palais.

Brophy, S. and Hladki, J. (2014). Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Campen, C. and Ross, J. (2014). The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chu, S. and Downes, J. (2000). Odour-evoked Autobiographical Memories: Psychological Investigations of Proustian Phenomena. Chemical Senses, 25(1), pp.111-116.

Collins, N. (2012). Smells can trigger emotional memories, study finds. The Telegraph. (28thJanuary 2012) [online] Available at:

Cooke, R. (2016). Interview: Mona Hatoum: ‘It’s all luck. I feel things happen accidentally’. The Guardian. (Sunday 17thApril) [online] Available at:

Crane, S. (1997). Writing the Individual back into Collective Memory. The American Historical Review, [online] 102(5), pp.1372-1385. Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].

Cumming, L. (2019). Christian Boltanski Personnes Paris Review. The Guardian. (17thJan 2010) [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Jul. 2019].

Editors, A. (2017). “It’s The Idea That’s Important”: Christian Boltanski Thinks Art Is Like a Musical Score that Anyone Can Play. [online] Artspace. Available at:[Accessed 10 Sep. 2019]. (2019). Involuntary memory. [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Sep. 2019]. (2019). Maurice Halbwachs. [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Sep. 2019].

Gibbons, J. (2007). Contemporary art and memory. London: I B Taurus.

Goudeau, J., Verhoeven, M. and Weijers, W. (2014). The Imagined and Real Jerusalem in Art and Architecture. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. (2010). Monumenta 2010. Portfolio. [online] Available at:[Accessed 17 Aug. 2019].

Halbwachs, M. (1950). La Mémoire Collective. Presses Universitaires de France.

Halbwachs, M. and Coser, L. (1992). On Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hatoum, M. (1996). Present Tense. [Nablus Soap, Glass Beads] Jerusalem: Anadiel Gallery.

Hutton, P. (1993). History as an Art of Memory. Hanover: University of Vermont.

Mace, J. (2008). Involuntary Memory. John Wiley & Sons.

Marks, L. (2008). Thinking Multisensory culture. [ebook] Simon Fraser University. Available at:[Accessed 8 Aug. 2019].

Martens, A. (2003). Mona Hatoum. ArtScene (July/August 2003). (2019). “PERSONNES”. Monumenta 2010 | The Strength of Architecture | From 1998. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

Persekian, J. (2013). MONA HATOUM: PRESENT TENSE. Art Asia Pacific, (Issue 84, Jul/Aug 2013).

Present Tense. (1996). Mona Hatoum [Olive Oil Soap, Red Glass Beads] Jerusalem: Anadiel Gallery.

Proust, M. (1913-1927). In Search of Lost Time. Paris, France: Éditions Grasset/Éditions Gallimard.

Radstone, S. and Schwarz, B. (2011). Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. New York: Fordham Univ. Press.

Roberts, D. (n.d.). Mona Hatoum. Exhibition review, Kiasma Helsinki 07/10/2016 – 26/2/2017.

Robertson, E. (2017). Mona Hatoum | The Talks. [online] The Talks. Available at:[Accessed 12 Aug. 2019].

Rosenbaum-Kranson, S. (2010). CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI – MUSEO. [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Jul. 2019].

Russell, N. (2006). Collective Memory before and after Halbwachs. The French Review, [online] 79(4), pp.792-804. Available at:[Accessed 23 Aug. 2019].

Serpentine Galleries (2011). Mona Hatoum – Mappings. [online] Vimeo. Available at:  [Accessed 26 Jul. 2019].

Tate (2011). Mona Hatoum – Studio Visit | TateShots. [online] YouTube. Available at:[Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Tate. (2019). ‘Present Tense’, Mona Hatoum, 1996 | Tate. [online] Available at:[Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].

The Hepworth Wakefield. (2019). Mona Hatoum | The Hepworth Wakefield. [online] Available at:[Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Turkle, S. (2011). Evocative objects. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (2017). Cartographies of affect in the work of Mona Hatoum – Espacio articulado. [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Jul. 2019].

Wakefield, D. (1970). Art Historians and Art Critics – VIII: Proust and the Visual Arts. The Burlington Magazine, 112(806), pp.291-296.

Wimmers, C. (2008). Proust and Emotion: The Importance of Affect in “A la recherche du temps perdu.” The French Review, 82(2), pp.399-400.

Yirka, B. (2012). Initial research into ‘Proust Phenomenon’ reveals link between memories and smells. [online] Available at:[Accessed 11 Aug. 2019].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s