The documentation of ephemeral artwork, works made to be transient, changeable and un-fixed, is often problematic for the intent and premise of creation as it aligns itself with a particular moment, place and viewpoint in time. Lens-based methods are mostly relied upon to communicate actuality and happening and to fix the un-fixed memory of the artwork, and this is part of that problem. Effectively, this type of documentary device works in opposition to the concept of the artwork, cementing into a fragmentary history when all it wants is to be fleeting in its temporarality. The lens-made recording tends to generalise vision and, by extension, it does not fully communicate the experience of ‘being there’ and present. Experience is difficult to replicate through a lens. This is problematic for artwork whose very premise is to be transient and time-based, and for which direct experience is a priority.
‘Documents, Alternatives’ is a collection of interlinked exhibitions that include time-based works reliant on performative process and created experience for understanding, which aim to resolve this issue by making the document and artwork reflexive. In doing this they acknowledge their need for change so to remain continuous and in process through staging a practical and thought provoking dialogue across venues. Positioned to operate at the intersection of artistic and academic domains, the project is as creatively stimulating and progressively invigorating as theoretically interrogatory and analytical. This is an experimental, discursive curatorial strategy whereby the document becomes a new artwork and the artwork becomes a new document to keep the ephemeral evolving and in transition. This is exhibition number 3 in the series curated by Angela Bartram.
To be true to the nature of ephemera, the discursive environment that is ‘Documents Alternatives’ is curated to map a staging that is in ‘motion’ and responsive to artistic meaning and intention. Here, the artworks learn from their prior incarnations, and respond to a re-grouping with the others in the collection of ‘conversational’ exhibitions, of which they are now becoming familiar, and their own concepts to be kept very much in the present. Moving beyond traditional unsympathetic means used as sole mode of translation, it offers a more effective way of communicating the artwork by keeping it current and active, and by denying its relegation to the historic past. To do this it positions the artwork as document and new work simultaneously thereby creating a generating loop of reflexive and developing activity. The exhibitions foreground fluidity and diversity of translation and includes multiple art voices and modes of output, and the work is significantly adapted for this version from those previously staged at Airspace Gallery (Stoke on Trent, 2017) and Verge Gallery (Sydney, 2018). Artists include: Tim Etchells, Andrew Pepper, Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Rochelle Haley, Kate Corder, Steve Dutton, Luce Choules, Morrad + McArthur, Brazier and Free, Andrew Bracey, Louise K. Wilson, and Angela Bartram.
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