The Afterlife of An Errant Line
After An Errant Line ends in August, the presepio figures and indigenous objects will return to their respective places in storage and the prints and weavings will be returned to their makers. The pink curtain will be removed from the piano so it may return to its accustomed decorum in the central court. The installation will only remain through various forms of documentation: a catalogue, photographs, the museum’s website, a video perhaps. Of course, documenting the work is crucial due to its temporal nature. The museum needs documentation of the installation for their records, the artists for their portfolios and personal research, and viewers and researchers who perhaps were unable to see the work in person. So, while the complex display of work by two renowned artists creates a compelling experience for the viewer, it also creates a challenge for documentation.
How can one capture in documentation an installation that spans three galleries and includes sounds, textures, seemingly countless objects, and an impressive spread of large-scale art works? In order to begin to answer this question it is important to understand that documentation is simply evidence, an attempt at reconstructing an event that took place. It cannot represent the actual experience of viewing the work in person. Without moving through the space of the galleries and seeing the different works as they relate to one another, without inspecting the detailed presepio dolls in person, without hearing the piano played amidst Hamilton’s floating figures in the central court, and without weaving through Schira’s hanging textiles it is impossible to experience the work entirely. With that said, this type of complex exhibition requires thoughtful and extensive documentation. It is safe to say that An Errant Line is a unique work that can never be remade in quite the same way, but documentation provides an opportunity for a potential afterlife.
Rena Detrixhe is an artist who graduated from the University of Kansas in 2013.