Artist pages in the academic journal, Performance Research Journal issue 20.4 "On Institutions"
www.performance-research.org/past-issue? Publication details|
WE ARE THE INFORMATION AND ITS RECORD.
Within the process of creating historical narrative, there are two seemingly contradictory dynamics occurring simultaneously. The same gesture that affirms a historical reality can also create an effectual distance from that reality. A tradition, event, history or condition once rendered within the institutional framework of cultural display can be made ineffectual and separate from the external world asked to view it from a ‘safe outside’ or ‘post-historical’ space.
Perhaps a human limit of language and symbols that will always be in struggle, the true condition is an open system of influences flowing in both directions: a present that is the direct result of the past and a past that is the direct result of how the present chooses to perceive it.
“We are the information and its record” has been written over and over in my journals for years, unsure of how exactly to use it or what it means. In considering this photo project for this publication, the sentiment finally seemed to make sense. As simultaneous receivers and producers of the culture we are embodiments of history but also a part of determining what that history is. The institution can function as a mediator in this process but forces the question of “history according to whom?” and which “we” is in fact given voice. It is here, in this triangulation that historical power structures can be replicated and reinforced through interpretation, denial or erasure. Suddenly the ‘post-historical, safe outside’ becomes a choice guise for dominance in both directions of history and the present, consciously or not.
In this series of photographs, the display settings of cultural institutions are digitally altered to name underlying conditions flowing freely between the historical lens and the current landscape. By tapping in to the platform of institutional authority, the goal in this work is to challenge the process of historical narrative and create entry to its ongoing negotiation with the realities in which we find ourselves - as both receivers and producers.
Kenneth Pietrobono, 2015