Many Readers of One Event. Installed as part of dOCUMNETA 13, Kassel, DE. 9 June 2012 – 16 September 2013

From Ashford’s correspondence with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: “A theater for re-organization suggests a distinction between the emotions that are designed for us by the world of power and domination, and new feelings that can be built independently. After all, we are overflowing with the obscurities of memory, the stunning mis-recognitions they produce, our exchanges with one another; their use of ourselves by others, and then the use of ourselves by our selves, our dreams of our helplessness recognized with others.”

From the dOCUMNETA 13 guidebook: “Doug Ashford’s earlier visual practice was primarily connected to the artist’ collaborative Group Material, which from 1982 to 1996, produced over forty exhibitions and public projects internationally. Combining factual information, mass media, and artifacts from popular culture with ‘recognized art.’ Group Material developed the exhibition form into an artistic medium, using display design and curatorial juxtaposition as a critical place for communication, inviting audiences to imagine radically democratic forms. The group’s projects, include Democracy: Education (1988), where the work of students, activists, public school teachers and recognized artists were presented as a unified movement, and AIDS Timeline (1991), an extensive research project that mapped the development of AIDS from the medical epidemic into the social crisis produced by medical, political and cultural indifference.

A teacher, artist and writer, Ashford’s individual practice is diverse and syncretic at once, coming from a position of utopian repose. His production of discrete paintings might seem to be at odds with the discursively motivated exhibition; but for Ashford, the duality between art-making as an autonomous occupation based in affect and contemplation on one hand, and as an ethical pathway leading to social critique on the other, is fundamentally misunderstood if seen as a contradiction.

“For dOCUMENTA (13) Ashford exhibits a series of small-scale abstract paintings in a prefabricated house in the Karlsaue, inspired by associative modernist historicisms that rephrase institutional memory, such as Aby Warburg’s Memory Atlas (1929), or Andre Malraux’s Imaginary Museum (1950). Ashford has collected multiple images over the years that depict groups of figures in states of emergency and helplessness. Pasted onto and hung alongside tempera painted wooden panels, these semi-abstractions suggest a discontinuous aesthetic path through past histories and into empathies that could occupy the present. By painting against a document, the depicted truths of a photograph take on multiple stories in their altered recognitions – creating a rostrum where forms and facts can replace one another in the mind of the speaker. This chance for formal organization suggests a distinction between the emotions that are designed for us by the world of power and domination, and new feelings that can be built autonomously to provide openings for action. Doug Ashford, geb./b. 1958 in Rabat (Marokko/Morocco), lebt / lives in New York. ”

documenta 13 original website_(link)

documenta 13 Archive site_(link)

Original proposal to Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev_(link)