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April 27, 2018April 30, 2018

Wiesner Room, E15-207
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, MA

Judith Barry’s For when all that was read was…so as not to be unknown (2012), created for dOCUMENTA(13), functions as an exploded guidebook that radically reconfigures objects and ideas from the exhibition into a carefully-constructed three-dimensional work. 

For when all that was read was … so as not to be unknown is Judith Barry’s guidebook to the “Brain” section at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, artistic director of d(13), thematized this rotunda space as the international exhibition’s through-line: a curated “paradox, a space of many secrets, a space of violence, and a space of potential healing.” The guidebook, which uses its unique paper architecture to remap the associative histories and labyrinthine nature of the “Brain,” takes the form of a series of pages, an artist’s book, and also a sculpture. Contained yet expansive, it is printed as a poster but may, alternatively, be folded into a legible, three-dimensional object; exhibition materials are presented in a non-hierarchal, non-linear array, as if to suspend its contents in a recursive space.

Memory and history – their alignments, eva-sions, exchanges and tenuous distinctions – are persistent themes in Judith Barry’s multidisciplinary art practice. Beginning with language-based performances in the late 1970s and 80s, and continuing through installations, exhibition designs, and graphic interventions, Barry has explored these issues in a variety of modes and contexts. She transformed the 1991 Carnegie International exhibition into Ars Memoriae Carnegiensis, inviting viewers to create an imaginary museum using ancient mnemonic techniques of the “memory theater.” Other previous works include the fabrication of a miniature book that draws parallels between genre painting and 19th century pseudoscience, as well as the development of an interactive computer game that attempts to predict how visitors to a digital museum might produce new forms of art experiences.

For when all that was read was … so as not to be unknown derives from an extended investigation of the material text: its historical development from early seals and emblems, to the codex as a contemporary system for storing knowledge. In its sculptural, three-dimensional form, Barry’s guide-book performs the function of a book. Acting as a cache of information, the folded architecture conceals poster texts within an interior space, presenting only the imagery of the “Brain”: a multi-layered, modular cover.

Part of the Zooetics+ Symposium and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of the CAVS.