A hand-print is a trace. The coffee or chocolate in the cup is a trace. An astrological chart is a trace – a representation of the positions of the stars in the sky at a given moment. We read traces, images, or maybe how Walter Benjamin would say, dialectics at a standstill.
What if we consider the work of art also as a trace of the complex world of relations, knowledges, conversations, histories which it contains and invokes?
What if each works invokes a specific world that is not reducible to one world, one author, one meaning? What if a world is a specific set of relations that one composes each time one reads the work? What if art works were not for contemplation but for reading? One never reads alone, cause even when being physically alone in the room with the object, like me right now, in a reading, one is never alone. I’m in relation with the materiality of the object, in mental conversation with the hypothetical reader of these notes, you, the people who made it, I wonder about the size of the tree this surface came from and that’s how I talk to myself and to you. And when works of art are for reading, the museum is less of a church and more of a pub. We no longer need to respect the silent contemplation of the unknown neighbour, they are readers like us. We can ask question, make a joke, coin new pick up lines. We need no official guide or critical text, although we might enjoy fictions, and new readings that might come up from those many encounters amongst the readers. What if an exhibition was a space of radical sociality, and the works were there as traces , texts and invocations of a knowledge and world one could not put down in a book or essay but that could only exist in the very form it has taken, be it a sculpture, an image or a thought. The white box like a dark room of speculation invites its readers to activate transversal routes of meaning production. We can pick up on details, digress into anecdotes, bend the work to rehearse our thoughts, listen to someone else, listen to the room, stay. It could secretly harbour another kind of Artificial Intelligence, one that is rehearsed by acknowledging and indulging in all those other ways of knowing, talking, being together and making some kind of sense we have available but that often does not hold any space, other than the private one – like the space of leisure, or home, or love, always confined and privatised, or capitalised on. What if the exhibition could provide a space for this? And how?