documentation and curatorial practice as political engagement

Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University


DOC14 learning

documentation: learning (Yousra+Luisa)

TWIXTlab: art, anthropology & the everyday



Negative Moment: Political Geology in the Twenty-First Century By Nabil Ahmed, with images by Gauri Gill and Rajesh Chaitya Vangad


Language Is Migrant By Cecilia Vicuña


A response to Documenta 14

A reoccurring tension in the work of documenta 14, as well as throughout the class is this concept of performativity and symbolic action over intentionality and necessary action. Consistently art appears as a reiteration of a problem, a signifier to struggle that seems to prey off of crisis. In opposition to documenta 14 was graffiti that reads “The crisis of a commodity or the commodity of crisis?” which seems to speak to the disconnect of art from doing anything but adding noise to communities in pain. Birrell’s work serves as a kind of metonymic function of artwork being subject to it’s context in exhibition rather than intentionality, a kind of physical disconnect in what the art accomplishes and what the abstractions of a piece supposedly creates. As with Documenta 14’s conception of an organization in progress, there still exists an ambiguity and fragmentation of what art institutions do so far as creating a community of art. We speak a lot in this class of spaces and the importance of places that can create conversations and dialogues. The issue with an art institution is that it takes the place of the audience of being in dialogue with the piece rather than enunciating and articulating the artworks meaning. We have reached a kind of postmodern issuing of fragmentation of the narrative point by placing space and artwork in conflict rather than a helpful juxtaposition. The article attributes this sensation of fragmentation to miscommunication which perhaps serves as a better understanding of how the collaborations of Documenta 14 function. The focus of performative and symbolic actions that centered around non-statements. I do believe that there is something artful in what is not being said. As Derrida says there is loads of meaning and context in what is chosen to be said and not said. I think documenta’s understanding of “the best statement as no statement” is in a severe misunderstanding of the damage done by silence and the choice to not do certain things. The literal interpretation of non-choices results in a futility of sorts that drowns out symbolic resonances of unintentional monologue. What seems to be the issue with documenta 14 is a miscommunication of the voices speaking louder than others in conversation and how the pieces speak to each other and the world around it.

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