Friday 29 August 2014

Review of Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions As An Art Form at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool

Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions As An Art Form
Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
5 July – 19 October 2014

In 1959, art student Hans Haacke helped out with the installation of documenta 2 in Kassel. On the side, he took a series of photographs of the event. Looking back, Haacke often refers to these images as his first accomplished body of work, igniting the issue of whether an artist, who is ostensibly using photography to document an event, can simultaneously – or perhaps instead – produce creative, artistic output. Photography as a medium is ambivalent in nature. On the one hand, the most reliable documentary form we have; on the other hand, it offers purely the vision of the artist behind the camera. Certainly Haacke’s series includes some incredible compositions – arguably ones that only an artist’s eye could capture – both reflecting society of the day and juxtaposing the art works on display with the audience before them.

To coincide with the eighth edition of the Liverpool Biennial, for which Open Eye is a partner gallery, director-curator Lorenzo Fusi has taken Haacke’s series and the question it raises as the starting point for an intriguing exhibition looking at the documentation of and artistic response to three key art world events: documenta, the Venice Biennale, and the Liverpool Biennial itself.

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