Every documenta has its own theoretical inception. This time, dOCUMENTA (13) director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev chose a series of one hundred publications dedicated to the idea of the note. Its editor is Chus Martínez, who in daily life is curator of the MACBA in Barcelona.
As theoretical preparation for the upcoming documenta, you have chosen to publish a series of notebooks. Why?
‘There are many interesting aspects about the idea of “notes” and notebooks. I’m particularly talking about their condition of being in-between drawing and writing, in-between the collecting and naming of ideas. But they also involve the search, the key-chain arguments in their raw form, the temporary rupture with the discursive form they represent. Additionally, notes and notebooks relate to the way writing and reading relates to the self, which also relates to the interregnum these objects/concepts create between the private and public sphere. Notebooks, notes – hypomenmata – help us to understand methods, logics, and therefore thinking. A possible answer to the question of what is so relevant, even so political about a note is the indifference towards the function the notes play in the consumption of ideas or culture. There is one step before cultural production and it seems the right moment to go there and investigate this space of the “preliminary”. A collection of notes is a curious archive of attempts. Attempts to understand the language we use, the logic we trace, and the images we generate to understand life today. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13), would say that these notebooks are “worlding” exercises, weaving and stringing together different potentials.’
Could you explain the nature of the series to me? Do you have certain fields of interest?
‘The notebooks appear in three different formats (A6, A5, B5), and are between 16 and 48 pages long. The contributors all come from various fields, such as art, science, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political theory, literature, and poetry. The authors until now include Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Lawrence Weiner, Donna Haraway, Michael Taussig, Alexander Kluge and Mariana Castillo Deball. Some appear in the form of facsimiles of existing notebooks, while others are commissioned essays, and yet still a third group is constituted by collaborations between artists and writers; a series of conversations. So far we have published 33, and by this fall we will have completed around 50 notebooks.’
How strict is the relation of the series of notebooks to the show?
‘All of the authors are participants of dOCUMENTA (13), so they are part of the whole already. How? This is the question to be discovered.’
I heard something about a special interest in artistic research in the upcoming exhibition?
‘Yes, we are really interested in exploring artistic research. Artists, like scientists, are pioneers when it comes to creating new forms of connectivity between worlds that seem to have nothing in common with each other. They embark on the endless study of everything that contributes to different formulations of what we call reality. Taking artistic research seriously means accepting disorganisation within the relationship between disciplines that deal with contemporary art. The rise of cultural studies, critical theory, and the many variations of post-Marxist understanding of the relationship between art and economics is the fruit of an ungrounded effort – though perhaps historically necessary. Confidence in the possibility of first unravelling and then stabilizing the meaning of what happens in a work of art, as well as the “creative” process as a whole, is part of this artistic research; and if contemporary art has strived to do anything, to turn around the rules of the game, to be freed of the constant allocation of meaning and thus “unexpress the expressible”, than yes, this is of interest to us.’
Domeniek Ruyters is editor-in-chief of Metropolis M
- 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts, series of one hundred publications, compiled and edited by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Chus Martínez and Bettina Funcke, dOCUMENTA (13)/Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011-2012.
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