Paratext feat. Encura 3

Paratext feat. Encura 3
March 27, 2019
By Marta Gracia

Luce Choules (Encura 3)

Please resume your proposal in two sentences:

I propose to develop a collective fieldwork research programme for Hangar that explores remote outposts, peripatetic practice and the fluidity of site-responsive working. The project would invite two selected resident artists and two cultural agents to engage in a critical dialogue about embodied knowledge, ecological economies, roaming landscapes and territory, outcomes of the project would be presented in a documentary filmwork.

[Section from Luce Choules’ application for participating in the programme
“Encura3: two-months fully-funded curatorial residency”]

Edited excerpts from a conversation between Luce Choules, artist in residence for the curatorial research programme

Encura #3, and Marta Gracia, coordinator of the artistic research area in Hangar. Conversation held on the 22nd of March 2019 at Hangar.

Marta: The first question is about your residency in Hangar. We know that the initial idea an artist or a curator has for their research project changes through the development of their residency here, but we rarely get to grasp these changes during the development of the process itself and from the artist or curator perspective. Can you tell us a little bit about this in relation to the residency you are currently doing in Hangar?

Luce: I realised early on that a documentary film would be an unsatisfactory device to use with the two artists I chose to work with. Meeting with the artists and discovering more about their work I felt strongly that I didn’t want to impose an interpretative layer onto their sensitive practices through a documentary film.

During extended studio conversations with Paula I found myself placed in a subtle space inside her process. Trying to understand her methods, her processes, her thinking – but looking at other layers too that maybe she wasn’t thinking about and feeding these back into our discussion. So it became much more collaborative in a way, trying to conceptualise her ephemeral practice with her very tangible material works.

When I met David I found that he also works with processes involving intangible, immaterial things – these ephemeral aspects of his process became the focus of our discussions. In many ways the idea of a documentary film framed our conversations when we spoke about the problems of pre-empting outcomes, ideas in progress and finished works. By not making a documentary film I kept our conversations fluid, simple, open and unfixed.

The process of ongoing studio meetings with the artists produced multiple thoughts, records and ideas without ever resolving into a single documentary form.

Marta: I think I understand why making a documentary doesn’t make sense anymore at this stage but can you go a little more into it? Why in this particular project a documentary wouldn’t be a good way to relate with Paula’s and David’s work? For me, as you said, the key point is the conflict between the documentary as a device and the ephemeral characteristic of their work. But usually the way to deal with the ephemeral is documenting it. I am curious to know more about your perspective on this.

Luce: Well, early on I had a very interesting conversation with Paula, during which she said that a friend of hers had said: “document everything right from the beginning of the process, so that you have something to present at the end”. So she’s been documenting parts of the processes herself but actually she is more interested in the poetics – you know, what’s happening within the work – and if the work she’s making grows and dies, then it becomes something else before it is finished. Then I thought: that’s exactly it! – there’s a tendency for an over-documentation of intangible ephemeral things, in order to show and quantify that ‘something’ has happened. In Paula’s work, there is no need to quantify a piece that works very beautifully and poetically. Actually the documentary work, in a way, could destroy the poetics in the work. Sometimes, documentation feels very scientific so we could think: let’s test the theory, let’s take notes and see what happens in the end – whether we can prove the theory or not. But the notes become the backstory of how to get to the end before you even reach the end. I think that a lot of documentary work is problematic as it forces the outcome through the process, and the outcome becomes the record of the process – rather than a person able to describe some of the processes, or some of the other things that happened around the work, as the events unfold.

Paula actually ‘made’ an environment. I asked her if she felt she had any responsibility for this new environment, you know, as the plants died bugs had moved in for example – she created something that is alive even if it seems like it’s dead. So we talked about the ethics of this artwork disposal. She is thinking now of a way to preserve it, whereas I would think of how it would feel to let it go. What are the mechanisms or methods involved in letting something go? How do you describe that from different perspectives? – Through ethics or aesthetics? And then we talked about her other works – she needs to talk about them through all the processes, rather than showing documents of the process once it’s finished.

Marta: I have doubts myself about the word documentary, and if it just means one thing – which I don’t think so. Did you consider working with documentary not as a way of documenting someone else’s process but as a way to work with other people, I mean, did you think of working together with Paula and David through documentary?

Luce: I think I did. Because in a way, there is something that I am documenting about their processes – but it is not played back by a film, or even by a set of photographs. I think the best thing is when it gets played back in a ‘live’ space – such as, in the context of Paratext. For that, I have asked them to concentrate on a project each and talk about the process: maybe some of the failures or things not shown in the work that contribute to an understanding about what’s happening in the work. These are things I suggested them to consider for the Paratext event.

I am also processing what I am documenting. I am not writing it down. So it becomes a sort of aural and visual memory, a trace of someone else’s process. I guess I am still using this idea of documentary, but not actually showing anything. I am really interested in how it is going to be played live in the space. The artists will do a presentation each and then they will be addressing Lala Thorpe and Patricia Dauder’s questions about fieldwork in their work. It is going to be interesting. But you are right: documentary is a very problematic word.

Marta: But in Paratext we will also be watching a film that you made during your residency here, right?

Luce: Yes, not a documentary film. My film is the result of one of the field trips I made during my residency with Rosa Cerarols – a cultural geographer at UPF here in Barcelona. I wanted to present it at Paratext as part of the Itinerant Actions: data and dialogues symposium I organised, which will look at artist’s fieldwork. Instead of making a documentary film about the artists for the Paratext, the symposium makes an opportunity to ask Paula and David to look at what they do in the processes of their practice and play this out in the Paratext as a live event. They are going to explore elements of their practice not usually seen in their final pieces and use performance to share their process-based work in a new way.

The film I made is called After-image – it refers to something left in your retina after an event has happened. It is an impression, a projection of something else. Something that is left in your memory and then it’s gone. It’s really ephemeral. And I thought: this is how we live our lives! I love the philosophy of the ‘uncarved block’ – there are frameworks of course, but I try to be as unshaped as possible. It is the unmaking of yourself that gets you back to the shapeless kind of form you need to be in, in order to understand as much as possible about process. It’s thinking and making at the same time. I try to be as unformed as possible, but within that there are things I want to pick out and make tangible or material. A film is a lovely form because it’s very ephemeral. And it’s only there for the time that it exists in its projection.

Categories: Paratext report |

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