Kathy Temin
Memo­r­i­al Gardens

19th – 25th August 2012
Anna Schwartz Gallery

A gar­den is a strange kind of memo­r­i­al. The most famil­iar form of the memo­r­i­al is prob­a­bly the mon­u­ment, which is typ­i­cal­ly per­ma­nent, unchang­ing and immutable. In con­trast, gar­dens are sus­cep­ti­ble to time and change; they are, how­ev­er oxy­moron­i­cal­ly, per­ma­nent­ly muta­ble. Yet gar­dens have his­tor­i­cal­ly served as memo­ri­als: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s mon­u­ment on the Isle of Poplars in the land­scape gar­den at Ermenonville and the Parisian ceme­tery Pere Lachaise are only among the most famous exam­ples. Like Nico­las Pouss­in’s sev­en­teenth-cen­tu­ry paint­ings of an enig­mat­ic tomb in Arca­dia, which Ermenonville and Pere Lachaise are con­cep­tu­al­ly indebt­ed to, both imply the theme of Et in Arca­dia Ego’, or the inevitable pres­ence of death in paradise.

Kathy Tem­in’s Memo­r­i­al Gar­dens’ seem to me to belong to this lin­eage of the mon­u­ment, his­tor­i­cal prac­tices of memo­ri­al­iza­tion, and the theme of muta­bil­i­ty. Pavil­ion Gar­den, 2012 for exam­ple evokes Tem­in’s moth­er’s mem­o­ry of a spe­cif­ic mon­u­ment, the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Wall at the Berze­viczy Syn­a­gogue in Ujpest, Budapest, which she first saw with Tem­in’s father in the 1970s — The name of his broth­er, Zsig­mond Temin, is inscribed on the wall amongst many oth­ers. Temin her­self has since made sev­er­al attempts to find this Memo­r­i­al Wall, rely­ing on her moth­er’s mem­o­ry of its location.

Pavil­ion Gar­den, thus recalls an actu­al mon­u­ment that has deep per­son­al sig­nif­i­cance to Temin. But Tem­in’s trans­plant­ed wall with its ser­i­al top­i­ary; nature manip­u­lat­ed and con­trolled; con­strained with­in a struc­ture that near­ly, but not quite, resem­bles a Vit­ru­vian tem­ple façade; also engages with and par­tic­i­pates in cul­tur­al mem­o­ry. Her minia­ture top­i­ary trees recall both the names inscribed on the wall in Ujpest and, more gen­er­al­ly, the Sisyphean endeav­or of land­scape design and man­age­ment to fix nature durably in time and space.

These two his­tor­i­cal pre­oc­cu­pa­tions, the log­ic of mem­o­ry and the lim­its of tem­po­ral­i­ty come togeth­er at Ermenonville and Pere Lachaise, as they do in Temin’s Memo­r­i­al Gar­dens. All three might final­ly be best described as lieux de mem­oire (places of mem­o­ry), sites in which his­to­ry is per­ma­nent­ly trans­formed by memory.

Luke Mor­gan

Luke Mor­gan is a Senior Lec­tur­er at Monash Uni­ver­si­ty in the fac­ul­ty of Art, Design and Archi­tec­ture. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Press has pub­lished his book Nature as Mod­el on the French archi­tect and poly­math Salomon de Caus in 2007. His essay Abstract Foun­tain Design’, was pub­lished in Mod­ern Times: The Untold Sto­ry of Mod­ernism in Aus­tralia 1917 – 67 Syd­ney: Pow­er­house Pub­lish­ing and Mel­bourne: The Miegun­yah Press, 2008. He is cur­rent­ly writ­ing a book about mon­sters and mon­stros­i­ty in ear­ly mod­ern land­scape design.


Kathy Temin

Pavil­ion Garden, 2012
syn­thet­ic fur, acrylic paint, syn­thet­ic fill­ing, steel, MDF
275445124 cm; bench: 5127340 cm
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery

Kathy Temin

Tomb­stone Garden, 2012
Syn­thet­ic fur, acrylic paint, syn­thet­ic fill­ing, steel, MDF
230429180 cm overall