Document 3

One of the purposes of The Elephant’s Journey is to consider and propose modes of art making and arenas of curation; to work within, what Carla Duarte has described as, A Possible Canvas.

At the heart of our practice is the documentation of our actions. We are at an early stage of what we see as an on-going practice of returning work, derived from the urban sphere, back to its source. Recording and documenting that cycle is at its beginning in this weblog.

‘Recording and documenting’: these two processes are the consideration of a current exhibition at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool. “Not All Documents Are Records” is a contributing exhibition to the current Liverpool Biennial 2014 and addresses art practice, production and presentation & how these processes are retained as cultural-historical documents whilst maintaining the ‘integrity’ of the record of what has, in actuality, happened within an art exhibition. Is the documentation a true record or a partial representation of the ‘happening’ of an exhibition — did it do what it said on the box? Is documentation partial and on-going; is a record a final statement of what we believe happened. It’s a consideration of, to quote Open Eye’s gallery brochure, “… the fact that, in archival and administrative terms, not all documents are systematically filed and organised to become official records.”

If the distinction between ‘document’ and ‘record’ is to be retained then The Elephant’s Journey engages in documentation (by photographing the actions of the participants) but does not create a record (if a record is a ‘final’ document that is no longer changeable).
On these terms The Elephant’s Journey is an unfinished practice and, with no duration time set, will remain unfinished. No great retrospective!

All of the ‘documentation’ of The Elephant’s Journey is a collective piece in that its participants are free to document their actions in whichever way they choose without amendment by any other participant. Each of our actions are documented by their maker(s) and interpreted on their own terms.

The record of The Elephant’s Journey is not a final document; no record exists, nor can it exist, because there is no stated fixed ’space’ (however interpreted) in which the participants engage in a practice. All spaces are A Possible Canvas — a pavement, a wall, a hoarding, a window, a lamp-post, a garage door, a wire fence, a bus stop shelter, a street sign, a coffee shop table, a gift to a passer-by, a bus seat … and so it goes.

Is a definition needed? No. So why say all of this? Because it’s a useful way of finding out what one thinks by starting to speak and finding out what results — this too is a feature of The Elephant’s Journey.

John Levett

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