Accompanying text for Paul Moore’s exhibition Unsettlement, July 2017 | by Dorothy Hunter (dorothyhunter.com)
So many years will be spent searching, studying, classifying, before my life is secured, carefully arranged and labelled in a safe place – secure against theft, fire and nuclear war – from whence it will be possible to assemble it at any point. Then, being thus assured of never dying, I may finally rest. 1
I have never read the work of C S Lewis; in all honesty I probably never will. My experience of him is second-to-nth-hand: located in those answers to unknown rhetorical questions, cultural signposting and landmarking.
The spatial significance upon which a geographical connection pivots can be fed back into the land, given the appropriate de/commissioning period. The suggestive space within fiction, and all those types of translation, is weakly echoed in the speculative writing of a tender application.
The author’s oeuvre is the public domain in certain countries; here, there are twenty years until that copyright expires. As actualised in place, that work concentrates down to something less literary. The atmosphere of one person can be extrapolated through time and their suggested significance, paving the way for other abstractions of lives as we build around them. That aura of paternalism can work to an advantage.
Images are constantly transformed, rewritten, re-edited, and reprogrammed as they circulate through these networks – and with each step they are visually altered…We are unable to stabilise a copy as a copy, as we are unable to stabilise an original as an original. There are no eternal copies as there are no eternal originals. Reproduction is as much infected by originality as originality is infected by reproduction. In circulating through various contexts, a copy becomes a series of different originals…in this sense, a copy is never really a copy, rather, a new original in a new context. Every copy is by itself a flâneur…it loses all auras and gains new auras. 2
Living or dead, artists can be used as props to plan and beautify space, the way artists (and those writing their gallery texts) can use philosophers and writers to funnel their work. Inspiration is not without its personal benefits. We can find odd things in the cultural processes that are bigger than ourselves, that we can re-contextualise at will. Is there something implicitly sacrosanct in this translation of placed writing, to artwork, to writing in the space around it? What traits or ideas settle across the process, sifting sediment from one end to the other?
Image and text are beyond distinction, sitting with living. Realities and fictions become less defined but more individualised, tailored to our immediate needs, moralised, muscled in, funnelling feelings and personal intimations. Existence sits more evidently in non-human space; with less identity located in interior, my exterior, my physical daily space, seems decreasingly relevant too.
Will we canonise consistently, I wonder. Will future literary figures feel so connected to our geographies – can we lay claim the same way? Will we feel so inclined, when there’s less push for that cultural anchor or buoy? Staring at word documents in an office, or bedroom, or the new coffee shop on the corner, will this landscaping of literature be said to re-inspire?
When physically set in our space, it’s all a little bit relevant to everyone. I suppose this is the best we can hope for.
1 Christian Boltanski, Research and Presentation of All that Remains of My Childhood, 1944-1950, 1969
2 Boris Groys, Going Public, pp 66-67.