Congratulations to Alex Elmestad, CAM’s Manager of Public Programs and Interpretive Technology, on the opening of his artist-in-residence exhibition, Institutional Memory, at the Luminary Center for the Arts this past Friday. Here’s what Alex had to say about his exhibition.
“The main objective of this exhibition will be to produce a memory of past experiences within a publication that will hold not only personal histories within the pages, but the intimate and personal narratives of the community will also become part of the institutional history.
A limited edition book will be produced from the manuscript taken at the opening. As a literary form of expression as well as written documentation of an event, exhibition, or project, this catalog will take the form of a performance first. A stenographer will be hired during an opening. Equipped with a stenotype, the modern shorthand machine, the stenographer will be assigned to a specific gallery and will be instructed to eavesdrop on as many conversations as possible over the course of opening night and the week following. In many ways a museum is a listening tool often asking for feedback from the visitor in order to improve its mission and enhance experiences. Without the social dialogues welcomed and formed within the forum atmosphere of a museum, the public would not feel ownership with the institution. It is exactly the dialogues produced that make the space personally important for members of the community. Through this performance the metaphorical museum ears are literally personified with a living person transcribing and recording the social activity inside the space.
This performance will exceed the boundaries of traditional recording and will somewhat venture into espionage because the stenographer will be obtaining information without permission of those in the space. Thus the issue of private and public space is raised. The fragmented conversational material will then be reviewed by the artist, notes will be made and items will be arranged to create a more cohesive, yet engaging narrative; however, conversations will not bealtered to any degree. The artist will work with an editor to realize the literary vision of the work, and a final manuscript will be approved and the artist will collaborate with a local designer and print shop to produce a visually interesting editioned publication to be sold by the organization. Titled Institutional Memory and produced as a print multiple, the work is intended to be shared with others. As a limited edition, the work will maintain a certain value and have ephemeral qualities, but the main objective will be to produce a memory of past experiences within a publication that will hold not only personal histories within the pages, but the intimate and personal narratives of the community will also become part of the institutional history. As a result the institution truly becomes a place of dialogue consisting of many voices that are listened to and the exchange is materialized in a written form. The publication will include an introduction text written by the director, a short discussion between the artist and stenographer, select typed short hand notes, and the edited conversational narrative.”