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Kristen Mallia: Memory Device

Frame 301 Gallery

October 12, 2020 - November 8, 2020

Gallery Hours


Iteration is a transformative, generative act. Something is designed, prototyped, tested, edited. The acts of the archivist follow an iterative structure, whereby a collection of memories is evaluated, sorted, translated, and made real. Edits are made over time, as distance from a memory often alters. The fact that the memory is preserved speaks to its inherent value to the archivist. It is worthy of saving.
Archiving is therefore a ritual of birth, giving new life to something that is dissolving. Ritual is iteration — a cyclical action performed over time. Repetition yields permanence, in a way, solidifying something in one’s mind or daily routine so as to become second-nature, mindless, ever present, preserved. It is through these performances of ritual that we feel safe (in both the physical sense, and the memorial).

The act of archiving demands a physical state of containment, as well. On a large scale, architectural spaces become the container for filing systems and information storage. In the virtual realm, clouds and servers become this sacred store. For my younger self, the archives were small boxes in which I placed carefully labeled objects that my future self would reflect on as documentation of youth. Today, those boxes give way to processes and multimedia objects that catalogue experiences, often through the lens of place. These validate my identity; places become containers for my personal experiences, suspending certain rituals in time and geography, and forever planting my identity in physical location. These locations, then, trigger emotional associations, as well, and their recollection, too, can be generative, instigating new emotional responses, feelings of displacement, and inclinations to alter or embellish the original archived condition (distance makes the heart grow fonder). Objects from these moments become sacred, too, and their value, with distance, grows. The value in my work, therefore, comes not only from its contents, but in its method of creation and subsequent re-presentation within new contexts. Through the ritual of iteration, content is interpreted, reworked, and retouched until it is a new entity, a modified document.

Kristen Mallia is a multimedia artist and graphic design professor based in Boston, MA. Her work examines iteration, collection, and preservation through installation, printed matter, and time-based media. She received her BA in Electronic Media from The George Washington University, a BFA in Graphic Design from Corcoran College of Art + Design, and an MFA from Boston University where she was a recipient of the Constantin Alajalov Scholarship (2016, 2017). Kristen was an Artist-in-Residence at Skaftfell Center for Visual Arts in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, and recipient of an Opportunity Fund Grant from the City of Boston in 2020. Her work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Kristen maintains an independent studio practice, Mallia Design, and she is currently Adjunct Faculty at Boston University, Suffolk University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, and Massachusetts College of Art + Design.