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 an exhibition that includes time-based works that rely on performative process and created experience, which aims to resolve this issue by making the document and artwork reflexive. In doing this it acknowledges their need for change so that they remain continuous and in process through staging a practical and thought provoking visual discussion. 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. ‘Documents, Alternatives’ is in response to, and as a continuation from the pilot exhibition that curated a selection of international artists’ work to demonstrate the ways in which ephemeral practice can be renewed through re-staging the document as new artwork. It is a re-drafting, re-configuration, re-grouping and re-working of this pilot, ‘The Alternative Document’ at Project Space Plus in Lincoln (13th February – 11th March 2016), and as such it continues the conversation and the lifespan of these works and their relation to others with the exhibition.
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 exhibition, 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 exhibition foregrounds fluidity and diversity of translation and includes multiple art voices and modes of output including video, light and holography, text, painting, print, web work, ethnographic environmental trace, jam making, and sound.
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