The Shape of Evidence examines the role and use of visual documents in contemporary art, looking at artworks in which the document is valued not only as a source of information but also as a distinctive visual and critical form. It contends that for artists who use film, photography or written sources, adopting formats derived from specific professional, industrial, scientific of or commercial contexts, the document offers a way to develop a critical reflection around issues of representation, knowledge production, art and its history.
It addresses several issues that are key both in art and in general culture today: the role of the museum and the archive, the role of documents and the trust that is placed in them, the circulation of such images and the historical genealogies that can be drawn in relation to images. Its uniqueness, however, also derives from its method: it is based on a close reading of a select number of works of art (e.g. Christopher Williams, Fiona Tan, Jean-Luc Moulène), which makes it approachable and engaging with the reader.
Moreover it applies an interdisciplinary perspective: while being about contemporary art it discusses objects and ideas drawn from a wide spectrum of areas including literature, history, photography history, scientific representation, surrealism, conceptual art, commercial photography and so forth.
The Shape of Evidence invites viewers to reflect upon the production and interpretation of seemingly straightforward images, and proposes that some artists can show us through their practice how to turn these deceptively simple images inside out.
Sophie Berrebi (1973) is a writer, art historian and occasional curator, born in Paris and living in Amsterdam. Her writing has appeared in frieze, Afterall, Metropolis M, and Art and Research, among other publications. She received her PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and has been based at the University of Amsterdam since 2003 where she teaches art history and theory, mainly in the areas of photography and contemporary art.
- The Shape Of Evidence: Contemporary Art And The Document
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