An unsettling flatness, rearranged dimensions, and carefully chosen objects pervade the large oil paintings of Becky Suss in her first solo exhibition at the ICA, which runs though December 27. In Dining Room (Verve magazine, vol. 1, nos. 1 and 2), shown above, she depicts her late grandparents’ suburban home, with all its reconstituted memories.
Suss told the ICA’s Becky Huff Hunter: “Several years ago I learned about memory reconsolidation, a relatively new theory that describes the process of what happens when we revisit a memory. It suggests that each time we remember something, the memory is significantly altered, and the changed version takes the place of the original. There are no pristine accounts deep in our brains, only reconsolidated memories containing the traces of all of the other times these memories were recalled.
“I find this mechanism similar to the process of painting itself—if I think of the distortions and inaccuracies of both my memories and the paintings themselves through the lens of this theory, I can understand the final product as its own legitimate and accurate depiction of itself, not a skewed or distorted version of something else. I am free to pull items from here and there, to flatten and merge objects, to change color and scale, all in service of the painting—rather than being chained to the original source, narrative, object, or place.”