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[Nettime-bold] more on Documenta
ana l. valdés on Tue, 2 Jul 2002 23:28:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] more on Documenta

I am planning to go to Documenta myself and I really appreciate Levs comments
and opinions.     The Swedish friends who visited the exhibition felt Documenta
very strong conceptual, trying to erase the borders between documentary and
esthetics. What about the works of Alfredo Jaar, Luis Camnitzer, Alan Sekula,?
Are we seeing a real melting between visual artists, theoricians, writers and
activists? For me as a writer and a political and cultural activist is crucial
to find a new language to include new shapes and new constellations. The
genocides in Rwanda, the each day struggle in Palestine, my own past as
political prisoner in South America in the Seventies, where is the
representation of all those phenomenoes? Where is the epic of our struggles?

Marc Lafia wrote:

> Hi Lev
> Some thoughts to share on Documenta
> Documenta 11, Art and the figuration of History, the Social as Event
> Marc Lafia
> A few thoughts on Documenta below. Not a review but an attempt to read what
> is perhaps its aim, its intent.
> Entering the Museum Fridericianum, one of four exhibition halls of Documenta
> and encountering the work of Leon Golub and Hanne Darboven, the staging and
> terms of Documenta are set in place. Darboven¹s work is the permutations of
> the possible. It is an algorithm of possible events, indexing what might be
> a personal story about her father, a mathematician, and her grandfather who
> practiced or trafficked in the coffee trade or so this was relayed to me by
> the young guard in the room. As she said, after pondering it for hours and
> days and hearing various docents discourse on the work, Darboven¹s system is
> not easily readable, but in some sense it does not matter ­ it is a massive
> record, a voluminous indexing of an activity I myself could not decipher,
> was not certain of, yet there are three floors of hundreds upon hundreds of
> letter-sized framed documents, all words and numbers, permutations of a
> system. Are they records of something that has happened or a system to set
> forth possibilities or permutations of what might have happened or could
> happen?
> Not dissimilar to what has put forward by any number of conceptual artists,
> these documents are the record of some thing, these letters stand for
> something, they stand for the fact of something, they are material evidence
> of some claim, some presence elsewhere or transcription or transposition of
> an elsewhere ­ they are not in and of themselves events ­ the event itself
> is elsewhere ­ under the cipher of a new calculus. And perhaps this is the
> difficulty of history. It is an elsewhere that is too easily contested, too
> easily charged becoming a calculation for some end and we are never sure who
> is speaking and for whom and what is and isn¹t being said. As Godard said of
> cinema, we might say of history, that it is alone ­ away from us, too close
> to us, and we are its ghost, never certain of the facts, only the affect of
> a time past.
> The works of Leon Golub move away from specific fact to the affect of police
> torture, a generalized maelstrom of vileness, violence, brutishness. His
> quick painterly sketched depictions of what he is well known for, depictions
> of beatings, brutality, violence to persons, women, men, imprisonment ­ with
> writing on the works, Œthis is you¹, Œwe can disappear you¹ bring us inside
> the event of what history generally presents as a remove. His work is the
> event of affect, not a specific event but a seething, poison that is.
> In an adjacent gallery to these two artists is the work of Zarina Bhimji.
> The video ŒOut of the Blue¹ extends and folds these strategies,
> problemitizing fact, affect and memory. A camera slowly moves through empty
> houses, barracks and commercial properties abandoned in 1974 when Idi Amin
> banished Asians from Uganda and Bhimji¹s family fled to the U.K. As such the
> very notion of remembering and knowing, of what can be said to have been
> lived and what is lived, or what is said to have had happened is raised into
> question. What exactly happened there? Again there is elsewhere.
> It is in this space between the illustration of event and event itself,
> between - History which points to something ­ and Art which in itself is
> something ­ that Documenta traverses and stakes claim or rather makes
> problematic, that is the claims of each, history and art, turn their
> respective strategies, their methods and discourse onto each other.
> Documenta uses the procedures of art, the materiality of the art work, art
> as a display of works, of physical things, a display of objects, materials ­
> it mobilizes presentation and display, the well worn strategies of artists,
> museum and material culture for the purposes of opening up history, memory,
> being, time and conflict.
> Documenta is a theatre of history, of politic. of art; it is a collection of
> props, procedures and tactics, a splayed database of the lived real, an
> orchestration of many disparate voices, but primary voices, authors who are
> the agents and actors, the very beings in the cross fire of living culture.
> Documenta is a spatial visualization of what often has been figured in the
> form of historical critique in writing ­ taking the evidence or even the
> very meta idea of evidence, of voluminous, forensic, physical material
> evidence that creates an alternative reading of what may have happened ­
> this is the predominate and outstanding strategic procedure of Documenta ­
> situating the social and political ­ or recasting or refiguring these terms
> and opening them up in the space of art to be seen anew and to be
> re-considered. It is art taking on history as the performative, as an open
> index, history as always lived, always interpretative, history as a
> particular reclaiming of events, of memory, history as living.
> A number of the works in the exhibit, retrace and traverse sites of
> political crime, war, atrocity, genocide, aggression and in the post 9-11
> world ­ we may fell closer to what we may have felt were far away things ­
> so it may be that these things touch us more then they once may have. The
> works implicate us in the social political ­ in a reality of a world of
> violence, territorialization and use a legalistic, a juridical strategy of
> amassing material fact to make a case. It is interesting how these same
> strategies of display of objects, repetitive objects, multiples of objects
> could easily be transposed into minimalist sculptures, the work all tends to
> be sculptural, objects in space, most pronouncedly the video work­ but here
> rather than objects that just are, these objects, these artifacts, this
> material evidence refers back to the world, not the materials themselves but
> to the world in which we live and the things that happened and have happened
> in this world.
> This reclaiming of history, of the social is at the forefront of Documenta¹s
> project and again another example of the space of art extending critique,
> mobilizing its formal strategies to examine and take as subject matter other
> domains as it has with the sciences, the network, biology, entertainment and
> so forth. Art has become a stratagem to examine and display material culture
> and Documenta uses this well honed post minimalist, post conceptualist
> arsenal of the last 30 yrs to examine the problematic of the world as
> actuality.
> Fact in the realm or domain of history, is never such, as fact is the
> contestation or politicization of fact which causes all to disappear inside
> history ­ in Documenta they are brought out to be seen again, to be
> considered again in a new configuration, in the language of art, or in the
> medium of display that we¹ve come accustom in seeing in art. Here history,
> politic is inscribed through material artifact ­ art is used to problemitize
> and brings back and reclaims the everyday, the difficulty of the everyday.
> It is too easy to dismiss Documenta as political ­ it is too easy to dismiss
> this work on the level of content, of representation ­ it is more
> interesting to note the arsenal, the repertoire, the rhetorical strategies
> so well developed by contemporary art and museum practitioners, each of them
> understanding well the shape and shaping of knowledge that both museum and
> artist engage, in terms of indexing a work, displaying a work, isolating the
> work in a space, in the vitrine, the frame and so forth. Whereas artists
> have been concerned with the museum as a medium and moving away from the
> object to the very event in which art is made to be art by virtue of the
> institution, the context of the institution, and the object in the space of
> the institution ­ Documenta takes these strategies, these advances to move
> beyond the play of the archeology of objects, objects that irritate and
> tease the artwork with its obsession, its fetish of the object (and why not)
> that is the art context, the art apparatus, teasing the art world to know
> itself as that procedure which produces art by virtue of its sanctioning ­
> taking in something under its confines into its apparatus ­ what ever its
> failings Documenta uses the art apparatus to reflect back on the world and
> the very archaeology of material culture to reclaim the world.
> Documenta's aim is the reclamation of subjectivity, history, memory in the
> space of art ­ it uses art as a discourse to write a new figuration of the
> social. In the space of culture there is no safety, there is no bounded
> ness, there is no closing off the world in the place of what we may have
> thought of as culture.  Documenta extends us and brings us back to our
> selves and the world we live in and our bearing on how it is we make the
> world, ourselves and art.
> Follow up posting on Documenta¹s video work, the spatialization of the
> moving image, forth coming.
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