The Documents programme explores the relationships between art and publishing, and other subjects that include the effects of archive on narratives of art history, the artist’s book and publishing as an artistic practice. This latest edition welcomes poet, artist and editor Kenneth Goldsmith (New York, 1961), an archive theorist, a poet in the sphere of “uncreative writing” — a concept based on plagiarism, appropriation and the non-subjective use of literature — and the creator of the digital platform UbuWeb, a paradigm of the immaterial museum of modern and contemporary art. On this occasion, Goldsmith will give a lecture on the history and challenges of this platform, a workshop on radical archive practices in the Museo Reina Sofía, and a second workshop on “uncreative writing” in the Centro de Arte José Guerrero and La Madraza.
In 2020, the use of digital escalated to affect the culture and museum spheres equally. This acceleration paradoxically led the internet towards a new feudalism in which information and its circulation was concentrated into towering monopolies, with the control and surveillance of citizens becoming increasingly more invasive and questionable. In what way can the future museum hybrid, between the digital and the real, escape this neo-feudalism of networks? Founded in 1996, UbuWeb is a repository-archive of the avant-garde art which belongs to the internet’s utopian archaeology, an autonomous, decentralised and illuminating place. Yet after three decades of work it has managed to resist both the logics of the art system — the aura of the artwork, the authorship of genius — and a new restrictive phase online. How can we learn from UbuWeb to think about a future museum and its archive practices, not from property and control but from the digital commons? This is the question that motivates and shapes this programme.
Kenneth Goldsmith is an artist who teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania and is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive. The founder of avant-garde art archive UbuWeb, Goldsmith was also the editor and host of the weekly radio show Radio Boredcast on WFMU. His books include New York, Capital of the 20th Century (Verso Books, 2015), Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age (Columbia University Press, 2011), Wasting Time on the Internet (Harper Collins, 2016) and Duchamp Is My Lawyer. The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb (Columbia University Press, 2020). In the field of uncreative writing, he has published the trilogy The Weather (2005), Traffic (2007) and Sports (2008), books which, respectively, entail the written transcription of weather reports, traffic flows and a baseball game (all published by Make Now Press). He has also edited I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (Da Capo Press, 2004) and, with Craig Dworkin, Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern University Press, 2011). In 2012, he was invited to participate at Documenta 13 in Kassel.