Documents, memory of the future
"Like archaeological excavations and studies, art is constructed and developed in layers. Yet unlike an excavation, artistic theory is generated by juxtaposing some ideas with others, and by placing upon these still another layer, another stratum, and other ideas from another historical and cultural moment. Inevitably, rather than drawing on the ideas immediately preceding a certain era, though they are founded in its knowledge, some epochs will reclaim other more distant ideas which might already be forgotten, or even refuted. Nevertheless, they will be cherished and they will serve to establish new postulates that, in the long run, will prove not to be so new. Indeed, the simple fact is that there is almost nothing in the world that can be considered new, except in its forms, in its presentation, in its promotion. In any case, the evolution of thought and culture has taught us the great lesson of relativity, the acceptance that what one person has demonstrated, another can challenge and that, nonetheless, no one is slighted, no one is mistaken. Perhaps everything depends only on the historical moment, on the cultural place whence the assertion is made.
The fine arts, now renamed visual arts, have always been considered to be a realm apart from documentation, despite the fact that history deploys art to illustrate its most outstanding milestones, to provide its protagonists with faces, sometimes several of them for a single character. The artists included in DOCUMENTS. The Memory of the Future (Alec Soth, Juan Manuel Echavarría, Jacques Fournel, Sebastián Friedman, Walid Raad, Bleda y Rosa, Luc Delahaye, Brian McKee and Ann-Sofí Sidén) give a face to the anonymous, give details of all of us.
The works in this exhibition are documents, remains of a civilization, of a disparate historical stage, which speak to us about the collective and the particular, about aspects of opulent and unbelieving societies, about death and pain, about stupid and cruel murders, and also about official violence, war and its present and its past; also about our future. They are fragments of ourselves, of that world we have built and destroyed, pieces of images that form a mosaic that, perhaps, some archaeologist from the future will have to rebuild to thus discover a people like us. Everything we do leaves a trace behind, a memory that artists gather, construct and transform in order to leave messages in big and small bottles that can someday serve to tell about our pains and our dreams, but also our failure. These documents will build our memory in the future. With today's art, and especially with photography and video, we are leaving our remains catalogued for tomorrow so that this way, although it may be late, something of what we have done will make some sense to someone. When everything has passed and, possibly, nothing matters anymore."