January 24, 2009 - March 28, 2009 // OTIS Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles
The Future Imaginary
Deborah Aschheim
project  |  about the artist

Deborah Aschheim makes installations based on invisible networks of perception and thought. Her recent work exploring the subject of memory has led her to collaborate with musicians and neuroscientists, and recent exhibitions include “Deborah Aschheim + Lisa Mezzacappa: Earworms” at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, "Deborah Aschheim: Reconsider " at Laumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis, MO (2008); "The Lining of Forgetting" at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC (2008), and "On Memory" at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA (2006-7). "Neural Architecture," her series of six evolving nervous systems for buildings (2003-6) included installations at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and at Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach.

Aschheim holds a BA in Anthropology from Brown University and an MFA from the University of Washington. She has received fellowships from the City of Los Angeles, the Pasadena Arts Commission, the Durfee Foundation, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She has been artist-in-residence at the Memory and Aging Center at UC San Francisco, at Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojacar, Spain; at Headlands in Marin, California; at Hallwalls in Buffalo, NY, at the Bemis Center in Omaha, NE and at the Roswell Museum and Art Center. She lives in Southern California.


My work is about reconnecting virtual spaces (the microscopic landscapes of medical science, the invisible pathways of information) with the phenomenological experience of the body. For the past ten years I have been building sprawling, complex networks of light, plastic, video and surveillance equipment, based on my interest in the mind and the brain. Since 2005, I have been trying to understand memory, a project that is equal parts science and poetry.

I have been working with neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, looking for connections between subjective experience and the understanding of the brain we get from scientific instruments and machines. We have used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to search for the physical location of my personal memories. I have been collaborating with musicians on a sound sculptures that explore memory for language and music (my collaboration “Earworms” with compose Lisa Mezzcappa was an attempt to prevent aphasia by “backing up” my memory for language using the neural pathways for sound.) In other recent installations, I’ve created memory webs built around fragments of family home movies -my prosthetic memories- that remap my neural networks of memory into the gallery space.

My works approach the elusive problem of memory from different aspects--a wall drawing, a biomorphic light sculpture, a spatial web of sound and video, the field notes from an experiment with myself as the subject-each in their own way investigate and replicate memory’s fragility and mutability, its intermediate status between observation and dream. In my family, we have a pronounced history of Alzheimer’s disease. This lends an urgent personal dimension to my fascination with memory and forgetting.