the document

Dear Alexander,

I have gathered together and included here a few notes on this notion of document that activates all of our practices.
The notion had previously existed in a kind of embryonic, soundless and undefined form in my choreographic work, but it properly emerged while working on and rehearsing my new piece, Chevreuil, in 2008. In other words, the document asserted its presence in the final stages of the writing of Chevreuil. For some years already my research had been concerned with various intertwining notions related to the archive, history, memory and sampling. In 2009, I was attempting to identify processes through which to acknowledge our being under the influence. In other words, to practice a positive definition of this being in the world, via artistic processes — only apprehending the slightest of boundaries between self and environment: a contextual approach par excellence. I was working as associate artist with the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, invited by the then director Yvane Chapuis to explore whatever we needed to explore, on the condition that we ultimately propose a public form, whatever the format of this publication.
One of the main intentions with Chevreuil was to performatively reveal the creative act in its full dimension. To show — at the same time and on the same stage — both the sources giving rise to the project and the results produced by the project, grounding my position in the conviction that these connate yet usually separated dimensions were of equal import, both in form and content. Whether I am the author or not of this source material should not prevent the two from coexisting on stage in a finished form that I will ultimately be claiming authorship of.
At the same point, the British artist  Jeremy Deller was presenting his From One Revolution to Another exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo. This show, faithful to his broader project, brought together a series of objects which might be defined variously as artworks, handicrafts, scholarly documents, etc., … Making the objects share space in this way blurred and rendered inoperative the boundaries generally set around the different forms of creation, disrupting, more specifically, the scholarly/popular and scientific/artistic binary configuration.
This manifestation of the anthropological dimension of art is what prompted me to effect a shift — initially, a semantic one — in my own work. I immediately decided to change the way I named the various materials that make up my work. In this way, an autonomus section generally referred to as a sequence would henceforth be referred to as a document and defined as such. My definition of document was intentionally loose and cursory to allow for the broadest and most operative use possible: a document is an object that enables a better understanding of another object. This definition — which continues to be active — swung the doors wide open to processes of association and differentiation and, as a result, to a greater potential in the manipulation and transformation of forms and their contents.
In this way, the document is not solely an object for recording data but rather an active, lively, autonomous object that produces content and form. Like a silver screen, the document is simultaneously a projection and reflection surface. A surface which contains, receives and produces. The document could ultimately be apprehended as a place one can occupy and — literally and poetically — take position in. A site specific practice I was unaware of had just emerged from the work itself — and I continue, today, to pursue this exploration.

(translation Anna Preger)

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