Catalogue: It will seem a dream

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Catalogue: It will seem a dream is the title of an installation and a book that address questions about ways in which artists might reinterpret and curate their own work. Situated in the context of contemporary practices that are not object based, the project questions the extent to which works made through such practices might be able to generate and be understood through several forms, thus challenging expectations, based in object based practice and to some extent museology and conservation, around the singularity and stability of the artwork.I identified a number of works I had made between 1997 and 2014 on the basis that they all involved original writing, as opposed to translations or treatments of other written material. These works took a number of forms, with the writing being present as text in books, pamphlets, videos, prints and other forms of display, and as monologues in audio and video pieces. I extracted all the textual materials from these works and reconfigured them in the standard format of the book. Those works that had a fixed material presence, the prints, I included in the installation in their original form, the others I reformatted and in some cases remade in a standard media form - the originals had taken a number of forms, generally determined by the context of the exhibition - these were then projected at a standard scale and from identical projectors and stands in the installation space.This research references traditions of conceptual and archival art practices and long standing questions about the materiality and potential dematerialisation of artworks (Lippard, Le Witt, Weiner, Boltanski). As well as being invested in the politics of the discourse of dematerialisation, this research is also concerned to understand the impact and practical implications of the digital within such discourses, and as such stands apart from much contemporary art addressing the digital, which tends to foreground the aesthetics of a digital age rather than the administrative and intellectual implications of artworks as data.The research engages with contemporary approaches to art practice and curatorial practice, and to some extent museology and conservation. MUSAC itself has a specific collecting strategy based upon acquisitions of artworks from 1989 to the present, and is interested to understand the implications of a collection based on data that can be used to generate artworks rather than on artworks as objects. This is an increasingly important question for artists and museums around the world.The exhibition was widely reviewed and the book was launched at an event at Matt’s Gallery London 06/06/17 and during the artists Book fair at Wiels in Brussels 09/09/17 , in both cases with readings.The research entailed a process of excavation of original materials, mainly digital files, and previously unpublished typescripts and manuscripts. This was a technical and intellectual exercise through which was developed an understanding of the potential for artworks to remain flexible and to be reformed and reconstituted.The installation and the book were developed through conversations with publishers, archivists, registrars and curators about the extent to which existing art works might be reshaped and reconfigured, and how that might impact upon the reading and value of the work. Much of the research was informed by the activities of the Exhibition Research Centre in Liverpool which I founded as Director of Liverpool School of Art & Design with Arts Council funding and in collaboration with Antony Hudek in 2012 as a centre devoted to the study of exhibitions. Its mission was to support research in this then overlooked area of study by publishing books and organising exhibitions, lectures and other public events. The Centre continues to operate as the Exhibition Research Lab
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMUSAC, Leon, Spain
Publisheroccasional papers
Number of pages316
ISBN (Print)9780992903992
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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