Installation: La Memoria es un Pájaro / Memory is a Bird

Francisco EME - Sparks Gallery

Installation by Francisco EME

Reflecting on family memories, this multimedia poem explores the concept of death and remembrance through the image of birds.

La Memoria es un Pájaro, which translates to “Memory is a Bird” in English, is a site-specific art installation consisting of three ink stamp drawings mounted on wood panels suspended from the ceiling. The images depicted on the panels (two birds and a hollow circle) are formed from words stamped by an old typewriter. This is a continuation of EME’s immersive art installation that opened at Best Practice in 2022. 

Volar En Circulos (Detail)

After his mother passed in 2019, the artist began reflecting on family memories, questioning his own existence, his artistic practice, and the nature of death. In the middle of that mourning, while visiting his family home, he found a photograph of his grandmother, mother, and two siblings in the Sierra de Chicahuaxtla, Oaxaca taken in 1974. Barely visible due to the mist, this ghostly image provided a flashback, and within seconds all these memories came flying back, like birds.

This installation, as a multimedia poem, expresses the artist’s lamentations, with the cyclical stages of grief arriving much like waves of birds. Each piece is stamped with words like la memoria (memory), niebla (mist), or ojos (eyes). One panel solely utilizes the phrase volar en circulos (flying in circles). These words form the literary basis of the poem while their shapes depict EME’s motifs of mourning. However, the largest piece, titled Phoenix, hints at hope arising from such a painful experience.

About the Artist

Francisco EME (b. 1981) is a music composer, artist, and curator originally from Mexico City and Oaxaca, Mexico. He currently lives and works in San Diego, California. As an artist, EME mainly works with sound, but various disciplines are integrated into his practice such as photography, video, and installation. His multimedia work has been presented in museums, galleries, and concert halls internationally, and he has released music albums as both a soloist and a collaborator in various genres. EME is the Arts and Culture Director at The FRONT Arte & Cultura, a binational art space for the San Diego, US – Tijuana, Mexico border region, where he curates art exhibitions, workshops, concerts, and performances.