zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


alexis vaillant
love for sale
lutwidge finch a novel: chapter 5
evil camouflage


Questioning the presentness of documents into exhibitions today. The idea took place after a "performance" of Hinrich Sachs in Geneva, Switzerland. What he called afterwards in a fax "the experience of a backfire night at Mamco in Geneva". Hinrich Sachs was talking about his research around the person of Ian Wilson, artist who has "disappeared" for twenty years although he is still alive.

At this moment I was interested in the artists who undertake research (mechanisms and forms). The main object of that interest was then to analyze the logics of work supposed by that kind of undertaking, above and around other persons (artists, historians, dancers, film-makers...) or events and facts. The mechanisms the artists explore couldn't necessarily create works but could constitute formalized approaches of an experimental investigation of the real. This interest was neither motivated by journalism nor biography.

It quickly turned towards the analysis of the relationship between document, archive, information and the idea of work (of art). Or at least, the operating field that these notions currently develop inside the art "area" which is formally animated by what I call the documentary tendency.

That tendency consists in presenting into art spaces, and its current extensions (books, cd-rom, web site...), a group of informations and of documents of work more or less organized and completely developed and produced by the investigation they certify. In general, what is given to see is material for a finding (or a report). The subject of this report is obvious, its way of presentation and the type of lecture which follows structures it. The documentary tendency characterizes an aesthetical phenomenon all the more complex because it tends to an "ideology of closeness" (Felix Guattari) located in these documents-works (photo and video, from Florence Paradeis to Beat Streuli, from Nan Goldin to Elke Krystufek, from Mark Dion to Andrea Fraser, for example). That dimension is often reactivated by the will to inscribe this type of production - enriched with / by "real" - inside the generical field of contemporary imagery. But this documented production remains a production of documents. In other words, a work (of art) made by its documents. The documentary tendency illusion is to believe that through their presentness, their cohesiveness, their contents and their way of installation, these documents take a middle position in relation to the document and the work as such. In reality, they freeze themselves and they conform to the classical definitions of the work (of art) and of the document.


"Seeking..." aims at reversing the direction of this connection asking if some "works" - which may play a "function" in this field - tend to be both the product of the work and the result of the documentation. So much to produce intermediary propositions able to invalidate these two notions on which they still depend. How far can documents be the object of continuous re-investments and so invalidate the documentary tendency?