documentation and curatorial practice as political engagement

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


DOC14 tour

Anton Kats Reflection by Tyler

Considering documentation as a form of curation, and curation as a form of storytelling, and story as a proposal for our real world, I am curious about how my art weaves together nonfiction and speculative fiction. I inherit the term “speculative fiction” from my afro-futurist come befores. And am left to question: how are we telling (and enacting) the freest true story possible? And how are we redesigning our world in terms of the un- or yet- seen, done, imagined? To live a life that is truly unhinged – I’m thinking of Amelia’s palimpsest – that operates on a deeper level of critical thinking and imagining and engagement. To in fact build the terms of our own existence. To remain faithful to an uncolonized future.

I am significantly inspired by the cohesive breadth of Anton’s work—his reoccurring radio projects in particular. (More particularly, Bloxburgh FM in Jamaica !!!) I am inspired by them as documentation of a community’s collaborative, political engagement. I am inspired by them as examples of how art practice invigorates collective social performance. By his intervention of art within the “everyday,” in a way that invites people closer to each other and to their world—and in deeper participation in its shaping. Leaving our program, I am seeking to develop a practice that meditates on the thing which connects us most visibly, most pragmatically, and most necessarily: living together. Perhaps this relates to my desire to travel and to make work that is site specific? Either way, I believe that change starts at the local site, and my dream is to apply creative investigation, strategy, and collaboration to its pursuit. (I think of Grace Lee Boggs’ words: “in order to transform the world, we must be transformed ourselves.”)

This notion of living together, of sharing space, of sharing home, I see as a sufficient prerequisite to conceive of ourselves (radically) as kin. And how do we speculate, devise, and enact radical forms of togetherness in the making, doing, and documenting of our work? This to me is a political practice of cultural meaning-making, of constructing our own world, with new politics of care relation. It is a creative social project, building complex grounds of politically engaged community. Which to me means collective, participatory work at is responsive to the problems we encounter.


I am coming to see my artistic self as a creative documenter of social, collaborative living, understanding that this work inherently brings with it the curatorial—the act of proposing a particular vision of our world, of reframing our reality through the lens of artistic intervention. This, I think, is to bend reality and how we operate inside of it. I think this means that I am primarily excited by transformation, but more specifically: growth, restoration, and healing. I am passionate about thriving and tall, fruitful trees.

I’m thinking of the artist as a dealer in time and in change. One with the capacity to envision the future, document and redress the present, and to reinterpret past. Thus I’m thinking of my art as an investigation of the evolutionary project of world-making, as projects of an intervention in change over time.

As a final note: I’m also really attracted to Anton’s language of “practice driven research projects.” I think it’s quite genius and have been trying to apply the model to my own work. (Practice driven community/kin building? I’ll keep discovering it.) I am also greatly impressed by the cohesiveness of his research interests in his practice so far (sound archive, research, care for elderly). In the context of my own work, I’m thinking that may be “found” material (text, movement, story, etc.). I also think it may be creative leadership. I think this may be how I intersect storytelling within artistic project and community building within the same.




Anton Katz, Cool Cat

(by Anooj)

I recently received an article from sex worker and activist, Laura LeMoon, saying, "An ally should be personally gaining NOTHING through their activism. In fact, if you are an ally, you should be losing things through your activism; space, voice, recognition, validation, identity and ego.”  I think this is the exact move to insignificance that I think of as essential; what are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of building communities around us?  

I was especially fascinated by the use of the kiosk as a container of memory in juxtaposition with memory as something imagined and as a non-linear reflection of the past rather than the past itself.  If memory itself is serving as a form of creating, how do we use that as an access point for communities to think about how to create in other capacities?  In the curiosity and wonder that seemed to be expressed by passers-by I thought back to an article from "Artists During Times of War," a collection by Howard Zinn.  There was an article that spoke about the origins of pamphlets and the wonder they used to elicit through their function of disseminating material that the public couldn't receive in other spaces.  I began to see the kiosks as a kind of pamphlet and then was reminded of the temporality of the pamphlet in its initial purpose... when pamphleteers are seen now, most people turn to walk the other way.  What used to represent agency of people to learn the truth now represents a lack of agency as many people feel pigeon holed into interaction with pamphlets.  How can our containers of memory harness agency and choice within its viewers? 

How can we be reminded that our memory is as time bending as the memories around us and that It is within the power of our the people to decide if the differences in how we remember are reason for conflict or reason for coming together? 

With the origins of Documenta14 being steeped in the master's relationship to art, hearing about Anton's art was extremely encouraging.  He seems very separate from his ego yet able to still watch himself from outside his work to be able to establish a need for sustainability.  I always wonder in these conversations and especially after our activity last week, about what people's bodies feel when they are talking about their projects with us.  We are only introduced to their faces for the most part, as social construct calls for, but that's what I have learned as the commodifying part of the body.  I would love to hear how people's entirety sits in position to the investments that they talk to us about.

kool katz

Anton Katz’ kiosk project at Documenta made me a little sad and worried about the future of my city. I loved the way he described architecture as memory, something I have thought of before, something I was thinking as they tore down the oldest bus station in Tijuana, majestic stained glass roof and all. We have no architecture, and what we have is quickly traded in for parking lots and shiny new memories, private inaccessible memories that is.

As we were documenting Anooj wrote down the question “Who/what functions as the kiosk in your community?” On that same board memory displacement leading to a collapse of networks. Again, my heart shrunk. If we have no gathering space, if our downtown is made for tourists, if the city is so wide and badly connected, that you can’t expect people from the east to ever come downtown, who or what functions as our kiosk? Can there be a recovery of memory if there is no kiosk to reactivate? If there is no space to hold memories?

Being from the border, I like to think there is potential in fissures. In a sketch by Lebbeus Woods’ work in his “Inhabiting the Quake” project, he ponders on the possibilities of “earthquake architecture,” within these notes, capitalized and underlined, the phrase: THE FAULT IS OURS. I remember visiting a revisiting of his work at SFMoMA, he had recently died, I was still hanging around the architecture school I would eventually drop out of, I was newly in love with a boy I now struggle to remember. The fault is ours. In speaking of earthquake architecture, of course I knew it signaled a fault line, but it clearly heralded a responsibility, and a possibility, as well. It is our fault, it is our wrongdoing, but also, the gap, the space, the potential, the fault, the frontera, is ours for the taking. The fissures are ours. The uncategorizable is ours. The quirks are ours. The fringe is ours.

Anton Katz spoke of the potential of forgetting. Of how people with dementia embody ways of re-imagining relationships, identities, and time. People with dementia are time travelers. These words were not said, and are not repeated to romanticize dementia. My grandmother had dementia. I remembered this as Anton spoke. I wrote “dementia is scary”. And underneath “re-imagining is scary”. How can letting go, re-structuring how you perceive and relate to relationships, identities, and time, open up venues for re-imagining memories. The Amelia offered a family anecdote of a type of dementia that takes over bodily functions. The body forgets how to breath. So, there’s potential in forgetting, a path to completely re-imagining, but also the risk of shutting down completely, social collapse.

Given our forced dementia, given the erasure of architecture as memory, given the lack of communal historical space, can we venture into forgetting as a way of re-imagining, without complete collapse?

Exercises of Freedom? A review of documenta 14’s Public Programs launch in Athens’s-pu/?auth=reqef197283-c97c-4679-92f4-503d4d42701e_600_447.jpg

On the Ground: Athens


Keeping Score: Notation, Embodiment, and Liveness By Hendrik Folkerts,1440x1440.jpeg

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