MeMo Organization Cabinet

Balloon is pleased to announce The MeMo Organization Cabinet, a new project by the British speculative designer, Jessica Charlesworth, in conjunction with the exhibit, Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection, on display on the 4th floor of the Chicago Cultural Center January 28th-July 8th, with an opening reception January 27th, 5:30 -7:30 pm.

The Latin phrase Memento Mori, meaning, “remember you will die”, denotes objects which remind us of our mortality. What alternative Memento Mori practices and rituals might be created in light of current developments in technology, philosophy and science? Speculative designer Jessica Charlesworth, cloaked in the fictional identity of the MeMo organization, presents a cabinet of curious objects and stories that explores a range of poetic practices and attitudes towards death and mourning.

Balloon, co-curator with the Slought Foundation of the 2010 exhibit, Strictly, Death: Selected Work from the Richard Harris Collection, has been invited by the Chicago Cultural Center to repsond to the works from the Harris Collection that constitute the Morbid Curiosity exhibit. Continuing a series of exhibits that examine the conditions of contemporary design, Balloon turns its attention to the work of Jessica Charlesworth and the emergent field of Speculative Design, a growing practice that uses narrative fictions and other unexpected framing devices to generate critical objects that explore possible scenarios opened up by new technologies and changing social realities.

Jessica Charlesworth’s past projects have involved modeling the obesity epidemic in the U.K. for a governmental think tank, imagining citizen survival in the city of Vienna after complete infrastructure collapse, and the exploration of advanced experiential forecasting techniques. If what we take as death itself is always and only the representation of death, exemplified by the long tradition of Memento Mori, what new representations and narratives are called for by our present moment?  Charlesworth ranges over a wide field, including the relatively recent medicalization and banishment of death and mourning from public experience, the emergence of palliative and hospice care, the funeral industry and the growing green burial movement, the impact of new digital and biological technologies, and a growing desire for increased meaning in the service of a dying self.  She distills her research into a collection of tools which facilitate a series of intimate narratives voiced by characters struggling in various ways with mortality. They are quietly aided, just off stage, by the always flexible and responsive technicians of the MeMo Organization.

The Memo Organization Cabinet will be accompanied by three seminars, hosted by the Chicago Cultural Center and open to the public, discussing the practices proposed in the exhibit. Please check the MeMo website for a listing of times, locations, and guest speakers.

MeMo identity, layout and typeset by Romain Andre www.romainandre.com

This exhibit builds upon the Slought Foundation exhibit, Strictly, Death, in Philadelphia as well as the recent Arts Center College of Design exhibit, Made Up, in Pasadena, California.

Balloon thanks the Chicago Cultural Center and the collector, Richard Harris for their generous support.

About Jessica Charlesworth
Since graduating from the Design Interactions program lead by Professor Anthony Dunne at the Royal College of Art in 2007, Jessica runs her own practice conducting speculative design projects, often collaborating with scientists, futurists, designers and academics including think tanks Foresight (UK) and the Institute for the Future (US). With this interdisciplinary approach she explores alternative futures that new technologies and science may hold. Jessica has exhibited at the MAKVienna, Ace
Museum in LA and recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.