by Anna Gerber
1. 33 Notes is a collection of inter-connected ideas, inspired by the
idea of Foundation 33 having to trawl through their bulging archives and
excavate their work in order to create something "new". To re-classify,
re-present, re-order, re-visit material, ideas, years worth of thoughts
and collections. Ultimately,
considering the process that leads to the emergence of "new work".
Going through my own archives, looking through dusty folders sourcing
material for these notes, I found a new narrative emerged.
2. "In the case of everything perfect we are accustomed to abstaining
from asking how it became. We rejoice in the present fact as though it
came out of the ground by magic." - Nietzsche.
3. Extra Art: A Survey of Artists' Ephemera, 1960-1999 was an exhibition
and book that chose the all too often neglected debris of artists' ephemera
as its subject. The ephemera included: exhibition invitations, posters,
ads, stickers, buttons, and other miscellaneous objects such as napkins,
notes, torn bits of paper. The ephemera, often considered an invisible
landscape preceding an artist's "real work", was subjected to
an inversion that made the process more important than the "finished"
4. "No truth but in things." - William Carlos Williams.
5. Scraps, found objects, memories, things, bits... We grow attached to
these "things", these seemingly meaningless objects, often feeling
a compulsion to hang onto them, to keep them. In archiving this flotsam,
this jetsam, we are keeping these "things" alive, active. And
in turn, if left to gestate, if revisited at random, if left to evolve
in the dark, they inspire, provoke, even materialise into (other) ideas,
into new things, new versions of their earlier incarnations.
6. This time last year, I was receiving heaps of submissions for my book,
All Messed Up: Unpredictable Graphics. Gradually becoming more and more
overwhelmed with the sheer volume of parcels, packages, boxes, I found
myself looking at the way the submissions were arriving (the packaging,
the marks, handwriting), the journeys they had made, with more clarity
and attentiveness than the submissions themselves. I started to think
about the possibility of objects containing stories or perhaps even their
own memories. In the realm of travel, in the fog of transit, the work
had been rendered of secondary importance to its container. Things are
always becoming other things.
7. A few months ago, I found a bit of beautiful cream and red floral 1940's
piece of wallpaper sticking out from behind my radiator. I've kept it,
archived it, and every time I look at it, I ponder its meaning - asking
myself what was here before. What story does a space contain before you?
Before you become part of its memory?
8. In 1997, the Photographers Gallery held an exhibit called "Collected",
a series of site-specific projects from collections around London. People
were asked to go to different sites, making the journey a central part
of the exhibit. Like the submissions, the journey the visitors were invited
to undertake, became more interesting, more significant, than the work
they were meant to be seeing.
9. "Photographs are of course artifacts. But their appeal is that
they also seem, in a world littered with photographic relics, to have
the status of found objects - unpremeditated slices of the world."
- Susan Sontag.
10. As we grow, we amass more, we collect more, we keep more. And in archiving,
we create systems and order. In order to know where it is, how it began,
how it became and to remind ourselves that it still is. And then, with
time, as with everything, it starts to yellow.
11. "Why do I love these found notes so much? I think I'm simply
curious about the human experience. Found stuff offers a shortcut
directly into people's deepest fears and desires. I feel most alive
when I'm glimpsing at another person's life, when they are at their most
honest and raw." --- Davy Rothbart, editor Found Magazine.
12. An archive, like any system, possesses an imaginary infrastructure.
It is an invisible space that we adhere to, that we follow. An imaginary
space that guides and orders, that allows us to gain access to the world,
that serves as a vessel through which we can come to "know"
13. The journal Inventory was set up as a collective in 1995. To make
an inventory is to write, record, classify, to catalogue (in their words)
"the social material life that exists around us." The aim of
the journal is to do away with the distinctions and hierarchies between
(and of) objects, to give the material past a sense of equality.
14. When asked to put on an exhibit at the Wallace Collection museum,
Andrea Fraser chose the original house that was transformed into the museum
as her subject. She compiled an inventory of the house's contents as they
were back in the 1890s. She displayed the full set of inventories in the
rooms they pertained to, reminding the visitors of what came before.
15. American writer Rick Moody created a narrative out of his own personalised
inventory. "Primary Sources", is an autobiographical short story
written in the form of a bibliography with footnotes. An autobiographical
list where Moody includes more than 50 books and albums. For some of the
entries, he adds nostalgic associations and memories piecing together
a story drawn from a list.
16. "Naming something from a description of it. Naming something
from a picture of it. Naming something as a result of feeling it. Naming
something as a result of hearing it."- Jonathan Miller.
17. There is a website that stores passenger lists from every single flight,
ship, train. The lists are there to find people. To locate them. To me,
the lists are endless names, endless numbers, strange documents of time
and space, empty vessels of information that suspend these voyagers forever
in transit on those planes, ships, trains, turning them into ghosts caught
between here and there. After studying these lists, I forgot what they
even related to, as I too was suspended between departure and arrival.
18. "By index I mean that type of sign which arises as the physical
manifestation of a cause, of which traces, imprints and clues are examples."
‹ Rosalind E. Krauss.
19. Phyllis Pearsall covered 3,000 miles on foot and walked for eighteen
hours a day to amass all the necessary information about London's 23,000
streets for the first edition of the London A-Z which was published in
1936. In getting where we want to go in London, she is always ahead of
us, behind us, making the journey for, with, before us.
20. An old friend came to visit recently and as I was helping her plan
the places she wanted to see, the two of us hunched over a tatty map of
London, there were so many times when the map seemed to bear little or
no resemblance to what we were looking for. But then I realised that streets
don't have names when you are walking. Instead, they are lined with places,
colours, with signs, familiar faces, but never names. The map felt like
a poor representation, even a false one, of London, like it was a prankster-plan
of the city.
21. "Space is an enduring reality: each of our impressions banishes
the one that came before, nothing remains in our mind, and there would
be no way of understanding the fact that we can retain the past, if it
did not in effect preserve itself in the material surroundings."
‹ Sébastien Marot.
22. In 1999, Emma Kay wrote Worldview - a history of the world written
entirely from memory. In this work, she made no reference to any research
or resource material. Having remembered the history of the world, in 2001,
she set herself a new challenge : to write the Bible from memory. And
in doing so, she allowed the process of trying to document the Bible to
have more meaning than the story she was trying to (re)tell.
23. We remember through our own particular, unique filters. Our memories
become our view of the world. Our way of seeing. They're neither right
or wrong, they are just as we remember them.
24. "For me voluntary memory, which is, above all, memory of the
intellect and of the eyes, gives us only the appearance, not the reality,
of the past. But when a smell or a taste, rediscovered in totally different
circumstances, reveals the past for us, in spite of ourselves, we feel
how different this past is from what we thought we remembered, and what
our voluntary memory painted for us, like bad painters who have their
colours but no truth." - Marcel Proust.
25. In 1976, the Institute for Art and Urban Resources took over a derelict
building in Long Island City, and turned it into a site for 75 artists.
Most of the artists did site specific projects that explored, worked with
and absorbed the ghost of the building, its remnants, its history, its
memories. From the rubble, they re-built the building many times over,
their imaginations serving as restoration devices. In imagining the building
as it was, this process blindly traced the plans of the original building.
26. When reading Gandhi's autobiography Experiments With the Truth recently,
I learned that when he was a child he liked to take objects apart, to
see how they looked as elements, as collections of individual disconnected
pieces. To see the fragments in order to understand how to reconnect them
27. For his most famous work, Gordon Matta-Clark, bisected a house in
order to expose and draw attention to the architectural content, waste,
material and composition of the building. He described his work as the
process of "undoing" - a celebration of revealing the invisible,
ghostly presence at the core of any structure.
28. "The procedure of excavation succeeds therefore in bringing the
building into the consciousness of the viewer in the form of a ghost."
- Rosalind E. Krauss.
29. When I try to imagine what process looks like, I see drawers crammed
with unused material; heaps of unseen photographs that were shot in order
to reach "the one"; so many words written that will never be
read; timber and nails obscured, reclusive, in exile behind walls plastered
and painted. I think about the left-overs, the not good enoughs, the nearly-rans,
the mistakes, the obstacles, the accidents that "got in the way"
but showed the way.
30. "When something moves away from being 'by-product' or 'spin-off'
or 'accidental side-effect' and becomes instead part of the available
vocabulary, it still retains some of the resonances of its accidental
origins." - Brian Eno.
31. "Daily life is becoming a kaleidoscope of incidents and accidents,catastrophes
and cataclysms, in which we are endlessly running up against the unexpected,
which occurs out of the blue, so to speak." - Paul Virilio.
32. The journey is never judged as important as the "getting there".
In destination we trust, seems to be our motto. We rarely hear stories
behind stories behind stories, how things became the things they are.
It seems as though process is secondary to the end result, the "getting
there" less important than the "being there".
33. To see how we got here, or to find out how they got there, see page