The Project Space at NYU Abu Dhabi presents the works of faculty member and artist, Laura Schneider, in her solo exhibition, Thymesis, open to the public from September 24-October 7, 2019. The artist was inspired to title the exhibition Thymesis after learning about the medical condition, hyperthymesia, while reflecting on the role of autobiographical memory throughout her own work. “Hyperthymesia” derives from the Greek words hyper (“excessive”) and thymesis (“remembering”). People afflicted with hyperthymesia can remember every detail of their own life. Schneider reflects that “those of us without this condition perhaps forget more than we remember and are left to fill in the blanks.”

The exhibition includes mixed-media drawings, sculptures, projections, and an ongoing project, Earliest Memory Archive, here presented in the manner of a phone booth. Over the past five years, Schneider has recorded anonymous audio recollections of people from around the globe sharing their first memory. Visitors to the exhibition can record their own memories in this booth installation, a process that enables them to participate in the artist’s reflection upon autobiographical narratives. Alongside the Earliest Memory Archive, the exhibition presents the ongoing series, Thymesia, in which the artist uses mixed-media collage and drawing to explore family photographs of her mother and siblings when they were children, as well as semi-fictional animals.

Through these drawings, Schneider reflects on the idea that one can manufacture false recollections of “memories once removed.” The artist coined this phrase to describe an individual’s inherited memories, ones that belong to a period from either before they were born, or were too young to remember. In this exhibition, the artist explores the possibility that she is inventing her own identity surrounding her pre-autobiographical life, and likewise that our own memories may act in this way. Schneider is interested in the possibility that “your memory of an event is actually just your memory of the last time you remembered this event, not of the actual event itself.”

Schneider explains:

“We interpret the memories that exist in these photographs not as objective truths, but according to our own personality characteristics and state of mind.”

The strange animals, on the other hand, originate from drawings by scientist-artists who sought to document the existing world prior to the availability of photography. Instead of treating the drawings as documentations, the scientist-artists produced their drawings based on memories of glimpses of these animals from afar, or on others’ descriptions of them, thus drawing potentially fictional animals.

Schneider further explains that the series Thymesia also:

“links memory and disappearing realities to climate change by portraying endangered extinct animals side-by-side with the centuries-old depictions.”

Artist Biography

Laura Schneider is Lecturer of Visual Arts at NYUAD. Working across disciplines, her art practice challenges personal and historical narratives through portraying the complexities of memory, language, the archive, and the ego. Schneider holds a Master’s in Art Education for Social Justice (NYU, 2011) and a Master’s in Fine Arts in Digital and Interdisciplinary Art Practice (City College, 2015). Since 2011, Schneider has taught in many spaces including prisons and probation centers, public schools, and colleges. Schneider is a long-term resident artist at Invisible Dog (Brooklyn, NY) and has enjoyed showing work in fascinating places, including New York City, Berlin, Venice, Sydney, Almería, Sharjah, São Paulo, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.