Lecture

12 November 2005

On Documenting (truth and politics)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNkLm9s6cx4&list=PLKRIMgiirxA7aT11arzChimn9V6bws2v8&index=2&t=0s

“I’ve been told that it’s a documentary, but I don’t know the meaning of that word,” Godard once said talking about one of his “documentary-like” films. This seemingly simple remark touches upon the complexity of documentary approaches in visual arts production. One is faced above all with a paradoxical situation: while we are accustomed to the post-structural denouncement of truth, we also observe the increasing tendency of adopting documentary methods in contemporary arts—“documentarism.” Further, given that the definition of documentary is “presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter,” the use of documentary elements in the arts is unavoidably problematized in terms of its subjective and rhetorical manner. It is in this context that the complexity arises: Is the word “document” valid any longer in its practical usage? Why “documentation” instead of “staging?” What kind of knowledge does art produce by way of documentary approaches if not facts or truth? If it doesn’t pretend to be objective, how does art deal with the given or found documents? What kind of effects does it achieve? And crucially, does this kind of production involve any political responsibility? Particularly with regard to the subject of war, cultural critic Boris Buden, filmmaker and theoretician Hito Steyerl, and artist Renzo Martens present diverse examples of the use of documents-including their own practices—and critically interpret these questions.

Suggestions from the archive

Education Program

23 September–28 October 2019

Course: Art and Politics (BAK Public Studies)

From 23 September until 28 October 2019, BAK organizes the course “Art and Politics.” In six weekly sessions, the participants learn about how contemporary art relates to the political in an accessible way. The course is taught by Maria Hlavajova, BAK’s general and artistic director. Deadline for registrations: 17 September 2019.

Education Program

8-29 October 2019

Course: Instituting Otherwise (BAK Public Studies)

Part of BAK Public Studies, the course Instituting Otherwise, which takes place at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht from 8–29 October 2019, focuses on the possibilities of the (art) institution within and in spite of the current political predicament. The course is taught by Maria Hlavajova, BAK general and artistic director. Deadline for registrations: 2 October 2019.

Education Program

14 December 2018

Mapping Histories: Conversing on Visuality and Subalternity

workshop by Lisa Ito

On 14 December 2018 art historian and activist Lisa Ito gives a workshop “Mapping Histories: Conversing on Visuality and Subalternity” as part of the Royal Academy of Art Non Linear Narrative master’s program. The workshop is held at BAK in the framework of Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice.