Like Liked by 1 person. It just seemed a natural thing to do. That is, the work pushes the assumed rationality of the archive to its limit by using an image of an event like the Holocaust that challenges received notions of proof and witnessing. The original image is enlarged, cropped, and silkscreened while encaustic is applied to its purplish surface. No eBook available Amazon. Eichmann in Jerusalemwhich is composed from the footage of the trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi enwezoe who coordinated the deportation of the Jews to their death.
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The payoff was an exhibition that read like breaking news and had the pull of a good documentary. It has something like the same suspenseful pace, without the focused story line. Photography, with its extensions in film, video and the digital realm, is the main vehicle for these images. The time was, we thought of photographs as recorders of reality. Now we know they largely invent reality. At one stage or another, whether in shooting, developing, editing or placement, the pictures are manipulated, which means that we are manipulated.
Art, which is in the business of questioning facts, takes manipulation as a subject of investigation. And certain contemporary photographers do so by diving deep into the archive to explore its mechanics and to carve their own clarifying archives from it. The gallery walls have been covered with sheets of plain industrial plywood. The exhibition space looks like the interior of a storage shed or a shipping container packed with images both strange and familiar.
Warhol, our pop Proust, was a child of the archive; he lived in it and never left it. In the process he messed up our habit of sweetening truth with beauty, of twisting the base and the awful into the transcendent.
People who hate the s for the illusions they shattered usually hate Warhol too. He was a slippery spoiler. The second, far less well-known work that opens the show is a silk-screen piece by Robert Morris that does what the Warhol does but in a deadlier way. It too is based on an archival image, a photograph of the corpse of a woman taken in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Although such pictures initially circulated in the popular press, they were soon set aside in an ethically fraught image bank of 20th-century horrors.
As if acknowledging prohibitions, Mr. The series of war-related paintings this piece came from took a lot of critical heat in the s. Morris was accused of, at best, pandering to a market for neo-Expressionism; at worst, of exploiting the Holocaust.
Now that his reputation as an influential artist of probing diversity is becoming more clear, so is the impulse behind this work. When you are looking at great art in museums, it seems to say, you are, whether you know it or not, looking at realities like the one you see here. Art is not merely a universal ornament of civilization. It is a cautionary tale in need of constant translation. The substance of the narrative, including a film career sabotaged by racism, rings true; but Fae Richards never existed.
Her life was staged for the contemporary camera. In this case the people are real, members of Mr. But Mr. Sundaram has altered the pictures, mixing eras and generations, meticulously splicing an imaginary whole from real archival parts.
In fact they are all found pictures that the artist, acting as a curator, has sorted into a semblance of unity.
The thousands of images in a looping hour slide projection by Jef Geys would seem to be linked by a firmer thread. They are a visual archive of Mr. At the same time, because the copies are genuine Sherrie Levines, the ideal is reaffirmed; and another name enters the market, the museums, the history books. Just as Ms. Levine questions authenticity as a component of art making, some of her contemporaries question its role in writing history. In elaborate conceptual projects the artist Walid Raad revisits the Lebanese civil war of the s in minute, graphic detail, through the voices of people who never existed using details he has invented.
For some artists details, or rather the accumulation of them, are the only truth. On large sheets of paper, Felix Gonzalez-Torres printed photographic portraits of almost people killed by gunfire in American cities in a single week in Questions flood in: Why were certain pictures of the devastated Twin Towers used in certain places?
And how is the story reported in languages we cannot read; Arabic, say, or Persian? To enter this archive is to relive recent history. Each of the four pictures in the show is of a hand holding a passport-size photographic male portrait. Statements by the family members who hold the photos tell us that they are portraits of Afghan mujahedeen fighters who had died or disappeared during battles with occupying Russian forces in the s.
Although the portraits are in each case held loosely, even tenderly, the words they evoke are passionate. Here the archival is profoundly personal. But do Mr. Do they convey , for once, some comprehendible truth?
No, just the ordinary one: When it comes to full disclosure, art never, ever speaks for itself, as Mr.
Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art / Okwui Enwezor
Well, It Looks Like Truth