Today, we made a “meal” of the mid-term joint-exhibition of our ongoing individual research projects scheduled for February, 2012. Not only an ideal opportunity for us to present our research-in-process without the pressure of displaying a “finished product”; the exhibition could also function as a structure within which to work through a number of issues surrounding the “curatorial” component of that research. Much broader than the act of display, of course, the curatorial refers to an entire series of decisions, selections and framings – it is not only the “what” but also the “how?” and the “why?” pertaining to any body of knowledge. To this end, these topics provided an apt initial discussion for the Ouma Lunches – which, I hope, as an idea/framing device, helped set the conversation in motion from various angles rather than following a rigid content-to-display trajectory.
We discussed the possibility of various forms of display, the media, mediation strategies and temporal elements that might be most appropriate – interactive iPads to track visual histories and associations for photographic archives; a one night event in which we could condense a series of discussions, actions and displays to create one critical moment; a long term, “standard exhibition length” show that might reflect more accurately the time and silence of archival work; as well as the level of didacticism necessary within an “academic context” versus the aestheticism of each component of the show in an artistic sense.
One useful text which I suggested to the group was written in relation to a project by artist and educator (for want of a better phrase) Anton Vidokle (founder of e-flux) – entitled Exhibition as School. The project focused on the mechanics of production, documentation and mediation – asking: how is it that we exhibit concrete social forms (such as shared histories, existing archives etc) and if every documentation is in fact a new production, what does that make ‘the archive’?
In the as-yet unpublished catalogue for the project, there is recorded an email exchange between a number of creative thinkers involved in the exhibition. One writer states:
Generally speaking, there seems to be an awkward adjustment that takes place in the passage of the work from a more domestic context (while it’s ongoing), to an exhibition context where a certain didacticism and theatricality is practiced – as Anton said to have happened in Knoxville – and where an unknowable, larger public is inferred, all of a sudden.
Maybe this is a field where there is a potential to develop a kind of meta-documentation, that is a product and archiving of a work; that at the same time is already a new generative process4that breaks the finite cycles of production and documentation, as well as rethinking the modes for its presentation.
Taking this into serious consideration would indeed transform the nature of both our processual and “final” presentation of research. At the most basic level, we came to a collective understanding of the generative and non-neutral nature of curatorial actions. We look forward to building onto this a sophisticated architecture of both concept and methodology for the months ahead as we continue to meet – finding ways of working independently/collaboratively, making our research public in the best possible way, and in the best possible way together.