The Storyteller focuses on artists who use the story form as a means of comprehending and conveying political and social events in contemporary art. Significantly, unlike their postmodern predecessors, the artists in The Storyteller neither take the idea of documentary truth as an object of their critique nor do they abandon fact for fabulation. Rather, they enable individuals (whether themselves, their subjects or their audience) to construct the story through the lens of their unique participation, thereby presenting these events in a new and unexpected light.
Responding to the rapid, often violent transformations of the 21st century, contemporary artists have displayed a growing desire to activate art’s documentary capacity, its ability to bear witness to events in the world. As Gilman and Sundell write, “All of the works in The Storyteller revolve around situations that are either in the process of unfolding or that continue to impact the lives of the artists or protagonists. However, in each case, these events are re-imagined and thereby re-experienced through the artist’s personal encounter or the character’s narration.”
105 x 165 mm and 120 pages generate the only object I have for this exhibition I’ve never seen. How to deal with aesthetics and ideas when they’re abstracted and buried in the past?
My position at ICI entails facilitating international exhibitions in venues I rarely visit. But beyond the .jpg’s, magazine articles, and other forms of mass media investigating contemporary art, one reason I love my job is that I’m in constant conversation with curators, artists and publics, all the time and all over the world. I hear personal stories of how art engages these individuals on very personal levels, and on particular days, how said art transforms varying perspectives about social and political issues.
Comparatively, the essays and images in this portable book (aptly designed to sit square in your back pocket) expand the notion of individual perception, subjectivity and truth. I did not see the Storyteller, so my fractured understanding of the exhibition is grounded in this catalogue which features artists from all the world, trying to understand and convey social and political events in provocative ways. The fifteen artists in the Storyteller consider art as an ever shifting, identity-forming process through which we can construct and highlight historical events and narratives through photography, video, drawing, and installation. Despite how distant these artworks may seem to me now, they validate the idea that there’s always room for new ideas, new forms of critique, and new histories to be constructed.
— Alaina Claire Feldman, Exhibitions Manager, ICI
Gilman, Claire and Sundell, Margaret. The Storyteller, Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and JRP Ringier Kunstverlag AG, 2010. 120 pages, 35 color images. 6.5 x 4.5 in., softcover. ISBN 978-3-03764-086-9. $15.00
Essays by Claire Gilman and Margaret Sundell, T.J. Demos, and Okwui Enwezor.