This text is an attempt to outline the status of documentation in contemporary art and to describe the process of how the role of documentation has changed within the last decade. Simply speaking, documentation has gained the independent status of a work of art. Documentation as an artistic phenomenon can be considered on two levels: formally as a way to create new works of art, and this is what interests me most here; contextually (socially), when issues arising from documentation are discussed institutionally from the point of view of curators, institutions or political decision makers. The most general category which covers the whole phenomenon of documentation as art is a category of the artistic means of expression created by Peter Burger. For him it replaced the traditional category of style in dealing with the 'non-organic' character of artworks created by the dada and surrealistic avant-garde. Its artistic heirs: conceptual art, action art and time-based installations are a starting point for this particular new role of documentation as art. In art history the existing standards outlining the relationship between the original and a repetition, (like Benjamin's aura, a dialectic combination of media such as Higgins's intermedia card), are not entirely applicable here. As in the works based on documentation, the problem of originality does not exist and the intermediality is currently made of several media. Therefore, although they somehow may serve as general patterns of thinking, they are, however, not sufficient to describe and interpret the specific works of art. Ankersmit's theory of history offers a pattern of a narration rooted in facts. Art based on documentation is in opposition to 'literature' created by curators and the contextual studies, into which art history has fallen. This text is illustrated with examples from the main exhibition of the festival 'Art and Documentation 2010' based on open submission and showing the works from last year.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.