Against Dissociation: Documentation as the Object of Care

Aga Wielocha (Bern)
The identity of a contemporary artwork is distributed between physical objects and processes, concepts and contexts that shape an artwork throughout its career. Often durational, process or/and concept-based, transient and participatory, contemporary art understood as a paradigm of artistic practice call for new approaches to the institutional collecting and all related practices including conservation. The intangible agents of contemporary artwork often exist as, and thus might be transmitted only through various kinds of documents. The resulting documentation does not only contain information about artwork’s provenance, history, meanings and character but it hosts an important part of the artwork itself. As decisions about the future presentations and hence interpretations of artworks are made based on documentation, the latter not only shapes but also determines the future of contemporary artworks. Nowadays, contemporary art practices tend to undermine traditional divisions between art object and documentation, and often the only ‘object’ received upon acquisition of an artwork is an assembly of documents explaining how the work should be realized. Still, in everyday museum practice documentation, produced both internally and externally, a priori and a posteriori, is secondary when compared to physical objects and often undervalued within the hierarchy of museum priorities. Is it possible to shift the importance of documentation within existing modern, object-oriented structure of the museum? And if yes, how? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this shift? This paper aims to tackle those questions departing from the analysis of existing museum collection-related practices and author’s own work on promoting importance of documentation and implementing documentation workflows in a large-scale contemporary art institution.

Documents of a Multi-screen Installation and Archival Films: Péter Forgács’ “Looming Fire”

Wang-Yun Yen (Amsterdam/Taipei)
This essay is initially motivated by the need to describe my research process on Péter Forgács’s Looming Fire, a multi-screen installation exhibited at Eye Filmmuseum in 2013. The artwork, based on Eye’s colonial film collection, seems a difficult object in moving image studies: audiovisual components inaccessible to the public, exhibition setup dissimilar from the neutralized movie theater, as well as the scarcity of detailed written reviews. The aim of the essay is thus to inquire what remains after this film-related exhibition: How to conceive an alternative analytical approach when films or videos are no longer autonomous, but part and parcel of an installation in the museum? Moreover, what insight can we gain on found footage filmmaking from a project at the same time artistic and museal?

Historicising Media Arts: The Role of Documentation and Records of Festivals

Bilyana Palankasova (Glasgow) and Sarah Cook (Dundee)
In this text, we consider the documentation of festivals of media arts and the relationship between an expanded sense of documentation and the writing of art histories against traditional institutional contexts and discourses. The essay starts by drawing the context in which festivals of media arts are considered historically, their activities, and how they relationship to media arts informs their position in relation to institutional discourses. Secondly, the text maps out the kinds of records of festivals that exist, considering private and public and internal and external documents which serve as artefacts of exhibitions and programmes. Thirdly, it considers how we might value and historicise media arts prior to their entry into institutional space.