Paloma Proudfoot:
The Memory Theatre

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18 November 2022 –

28 January 2023

Opening: 17 November, 5 – 8pm

Bosse & Baum is pleased to present The Memory Theatre, the first solo exhibition by Paloma Proudfoot at the gallery, featuring a large-scale ceramic relief with embroidered textile details. The narrative of the installation journeys through different scenes that envisage ideas of what the ‘after-life’ could mean in a secular context.  

The title of the exhibition is taken from the 16th Century philosopher Giulio Camillo’s mnemonic conception of the same name, a tiered theatre designed for a singular audience member, entering which they could supposedly recall the entirety of human knowledge. Instead of an attempt to extend and neatly box an individual’s memory, Proudfoot’s version looks to explore a different view of memory, acknowledging its faltering and shape-shifting nature. Across the different vignettes, the frieze visualises the capacity to live beyond our mortal span in the recollections of those still living; the physical memory of the body that allows us to self-heal yet also makes us mortal; and the ‘afterlives’ held in the natural landscape and the non-human. 

Fragmented and fixed with constellations of bolts yet soft-edged, the figures appear like robotic avatars made fleshy, with their lilac and blue-washed faces suggesting their position in limbo between life and death. In the central composition of the exhibition, set against a trompe l’oeil painting of an open book, a female protagonist harvests thread from an artery figure sprouting branch-like protrusions and surrounding blood-lined bushes. Her swamp laden, gnarled skin appears as if slowly petrifying: she gathers thread whilst aspiring to merge with the longer span of geological time, where one is indecipherable as an individual.    

Arterial thread continues to run throughout the different scenes creating a cyclical flow throughout the works, bridging ideas of physical and cerebral memory. The stitching line follows a figure sewing herself into a slick neoprene coating, suggesting both self-healing and protection. In other scenes the coarse oxblood cord binds books and embroidered images to the restructured anatomies of the characters, becoming different embodiments of how we try to order and store memory.   

Through fusing potent symbolism with a sensitive, conceptual material language, Proudfoot’s exhibition teases out the compelling personal experience of the artist and combines it with alternative cosmologies that find value in organic time, bodily perishability, pleasure, and all the fragments that live on in collective memory.

Paloma Proudfoot (b. 1992, London) is an artist living and working in London, with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include: Bosse and Baum, London (2022); Soy Capitan Gallery, Berlin (2021 and 2019); Editorial Projects, Vilnius (2021); Sans Titre, Paris (2019); Cob Gallery, London (2018). Recent and forthcoming performances and group exhibitions include: Bold Tendencies, London (2022); Kunst im Tunnel, Dusseldorf (2022); CAPC, Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2022); Den Frie, Copenhagen (2021); Hannah Barry Gallery, London (2021); Art by post, Southbank Centre, London (2021); Ferine, TJ Boulting, London (2021 and 2019); Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome (2020); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019); Tenderpixel, London (2018); Marso Galeria with Galerie Sultana and Sans Titre for Condo Mexico, Mexico City (2018).


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Exhibition Images

Exhibition Text by Sophie Mackintosh

𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘥, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦, 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘤𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘦.


You might think to pull an artery between your palms would feel like rope, would feel like rubber. You might think that when you gently press the twine of it with your thumb and forefinger it would give way.
We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, less easy to erase,
though how I may have dreamed sometimes of leaving no trace.

But a body is more than a mouthprint of breath left on glass, more than a halo.
But my body feels the earth burying my feet, the wind hard against skin, the roots of me inside the earth.
Feels it. A thousand neurons firing, a constellation.
The theatre of my memory holds me firm.
It roots me to the ground.

Let the rain come for me
Let the weather come for me
Let me be weather
Let my palms meet where the artery runs, twisting and strong.
Let me be of the flesh and more than the flesh. Let me be ageless, hewn from something bigger than myself.


In the memory theatre, things could be displaced.
The stage could be re-set – I told things differently each time I told them.
There was an echo
There was a tuning fork, ringing
There was a wrong note, the right notes, a whispered voice
There was a whispered story and a shouted one and both were true.

In the memory theatre I curated and re-curated
I believed and unbelieved
In re-remembering I found another kind of story
I no longer knew the true story.

But then there was no one true story, I knew. Not one definitive thing written or read.
Only the one that lived inside of me,
lived inside a thousand changing versions of me.
A story traced against the velvet of my lungs and heart and throat.

There was no knowing which stories would land,
which would sink into the earth,
which I could write upon myself for all to see.


Needle – thread – blood pinpricks: a constellation.

I watched the movement of the metal swim under skin, tensile silver fish, slip of a thing.
A surfacing.
There is pain in re-mending,
there is pain in remembering,
there is pain in the piecing together.

I felt the nerves of my fingers alive, and I felt myself again of the flesh and more than the flesh.

I have been a new kind of thing, and I do not wish to lose pain, which is not to say embrace it.
In the memory theatre there are a thousand different ways to patchwork,
embroider, weave.
I choose them all.
I leave myself behind like a garment,
remade, re-mended, made do.

I will remember
I will be remembered in turn
And so it goes on,

a constellation: blood pinpricks / thread / needle.

𝘕𝘰𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘸𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺, 𝘸𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘺𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦, 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘭𝘦𝘧𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥.

Exhibition Catalogue

Download the exhibition text written by Man Booker Prize nominated author Sophie Mackintosh. Design by Lida Koutromanou