Catalogue raisonné, retrospective, collected works (and other assorted fabrications all put together in guise of a fabulous, absolutely fabulous, Oovra!) Dai Jaan Larteast is a literary work in “catalogue raisonné” form that traces the life and works of a non-existing artist. Dai Jaan Larteast, that is. It is comprised of various forms and genres of writings, and forms and genres of artworks (or rather their reproduction, for indeed, many of the works cited in DJL will never have existed, and will never exist) that will constitute:
A parody of art books, more specifically of the “catalogue raisonné”; A depository of unrealized conceptual projects along with real and realized artistic projects; An aesthetic theory in motion; An exploration and exploitation of the parameters of the book format and varieties of artistic endeavors within that format; A critical look at various strands of modern society; A parody of various artistic modes and practices and media AND the writings of the art historians, critics and theorists and artists engaged with these works themselves; A genuine exploration of possibilities and limits, but really of only two media: writing and photography, along with the exploration of the possibilities of the presentation of an artist’s work in book form; Finally, an answer to that paradigm of books: the lifework: cantos, Galileo, 7-up: the total opposite.
All the texts, in English, French, Spanish, Persian and German, from purported letters of the artist, letters of colleagues, scholarly articles on the art and life of the artist, journalistic pieces either deriding or congratulating the artist in his time, to editor’s notes on the various artifacts, catalogues at appearance of the fellar at various galleries and venues, would all be written by: me. The actual works of art (photographs, installations, translations, conceptual niceties) and the unactual works (those that are mentioned but that never really existed: and yet: this itself is an exploration of the photographic medium and a whole critical engagement with the state of the world) are all also done by: me.
The importance of this project lies at several different levels:
It constitutes an arena for the expression of poetics and theoretical exploration, both scientific and impressionistic (musings). But an arena that is to be distinct form other forms/spaces conventionally designed or reserved for such elaboration and articulation. Precisely because these explorations, within this artifact, and associated and intersecting with the varieties of forms and genres, the various theoretical propositions and gestures, very serious in their critical engagement with art theory, philosophies of aesthetics and actual artistic creations, aspire to the creation of a new discourse, a way of understanding and analyzing, a rival of sorts to discourses engaged with the same topics. In addition, the inter-relationships allow for a whole other complex to be formed which creates a new genre/ form and allows for a new apprehension of reality. As such, the work is involved politically and socially with the very status, importance, essence and definition not only of art objects, but the theoretical paradigms that construct them, along with the industry that propagates and supports and otherwise is involved with it (from art critics to professors of art to curators), and institutions involved in creating, fashioning … art, from museums and galleries to newpapers and magazines. By extention, the work is deeply involved with the problematics raised around ‘culture’: from artifacts and objects, to the construction of entities. Ultimately, the very notion of subjectivity, and of artistic engagement, is addressed in the unique way possible through this very enterprise: where the very name and characteristics of the artist in question are fluid, transforming, ambiguous, and comprised of multiple subjectivities expressing and exposing themselves in various ways, each of those also an amalgam of multiplicities, and so on… Engaged critically and philosophically with the motivations and the process of creative engagements. From affecting, in humorous or critical manner, articulation practices: the conceptual articulation of a work, the coming-up with projects mattering more than its actual practice and the creation of an artifact–i.e. a photograph of a piece of theatre that never actually took place. Also, addressing my inclination to come up with things and not go all the way because the concept is what matters, and if elaboration is had, it has to be in such a way that it also creates it. Finally, the work is a pure literary artifact, and its merit derives from the humorous engagement with all these spheres, and the fact that there haven’t been too many actual literary works that are parodies of a catalogue raisonné (which assumes that it also is, a catalogue raisonné).