Should I Remember You?, Isabel Santos’ third solo show, explores the intersection of the artist’s
life and the current state of her artmaking, both of which are guided by the recurring theme of
memory, identity, relevance, and importance.
The tension lies in the questions of memory: What will people remember you for?
In Should I Remember You?, Santos defies the persistence of memory and the habits that help
form style and identity, questioning whether change for the sake of change is more desirable than
letting things take their course. Here, Santos, who has previously worked extensively on the
appropriation of comics and illustrative elements in her work, purposefully shies away from using
these images, at the risk of losing the mark that has been associated with her and the art she’s
been known to make.
What does remain here is a process of layering images over the other, obscuring the original
image with other images, a process similar to how memory occupies space, where value can be
ephemeral, where what used to carry so much meaning can be layered over or covered up. Does
the addition of images—the retention of some elements, memories—make the message more
meaningful or do they just add symbolic or visual clutter?
Santos’ third solo show is a vehicle for change and growth, a deliberate shifting away from what
has come to define her as an artist, so far. Her own struggle to be relevant—the need for this itself
left unexamined—tempts her to stick with her perceived public identity that’s easily associated to
her person by others. The artist’s seeming need for importance and impact, for retention in
memory and history, may tip their actions towards what is familiar and connected to them. “Where
is the maker in the work?” Santos muses. “Do they need to be found within the finished object?”
With Should I Remember You?, the answer Santos seems to arrive at is no.