Vertical Archives (project for Wexford) (2008)

(English) 24 segments of 24 years vertically compressed between two other verticals.
The entire work is a play on our human need for memory and on different relations to time (present, future, historical, personal and so on).
The performance retraces history, in its broadest as well as in its more personal sense, and is based on notions of memory, time, archival conservation, premonition and nostalgia, with subtle references to Hollis Frampton's (nostalgia) and Peter Greenaway's Vertical Features Remake

The performance starts at 6 pm, and finishes the next day at the same hour.


On a traditional clock, 6pm is the only moment when both hands form a perfectly straight line, a vertical going from number 12 to number 6 below.

The performance consists in the progressive exhibition and disappearance of 24 photographs, all taken with the same camera between 1984 and 2008, that is to say over a span of 24 years. Each photograph represents a vertical element which announces the shape of the final work, and has a different relation to personal history, and to the other photographs. Each is accompanied by a text which explains its story, both fictional and true. The texts are written by memory during the actual performance.

The setting for the performance presents a table and chair, a desk lamp, microphone and a clock and ladder for practical reasons.

At 6 pm, the artist places photograph number 1 on the wall, and sits at the table, writing. At 6'30 he tells the story of a photograph on the microphone. However, the story told is not that of photograph 1, but of photograph 24, which will only be hung at the end of the performance. After his speech the text is stuck on the wall next to the photograph.
At 7 pm, the artist arrives again, takes off photograph 1 and re-sticks it at the bottom of the wall, touching the floor, a few meters away. The photograph receives a splash of bleach. Photograph 2 then replaces photograph 1 on the “exhibit” space, and half an hour later, the artist writes and tells the story of photograph 23 on the microphone. The text is stuck next to the picture.
At 8 pm, photograph 2 is removed, placed in the “archives” above photograph 1 and in turn receives bleach. Thus, photograph 1 has two layers of bleach and photograph 2 only one.
The performance continues according to the same system during 24 hours : exhibit of the photograph, writing and lecture of the text corresponding to the opposite photograph, bleaching of the photograph and so on. If the images disappear progressively, the texts remain available on the table for the spectator to read.

According to this system, nothing remains static : for example, in the middle of the performance, when the texts come nearer to the referent photograph, around six in the morning, it will be easier for the patient and tireless spectator to see the relation between text and image. However, the relation between the early and last photographs to their text will only appear to those present at both events.

On of the final photographs represents the actual performance and will thus have to be developed in an instant during the 24 hours. This way, the “archives” include events that directly concern all those present.

The final text will inform the spectators of the important elements and clues in the first photographs, however now destroyed.

The bleach reacts slowly to the pictures. Thus, the images will fade, since in the printing process the first colours to run are blues. The bleaching creates violent reds and yellows, quite similar to flames. Due to the vertical classification, the first images will be almost totally erased at the end of the performance, hence the metaphor of memory, their subject will have leaked onto the wall and floor like ink. The final result is nearly 3 meters high.

The spectators see and hear an exposed, “present” work, a text done by memory (thus not flawless) and an “archive” of damaged images, for which he or she has no information at first. However, the spectators are informed of coming events. When the performance becomes nostalgic, after 6 am, their relation to the work changes, since he or she can verify the relationship between the text and the image, but only with much attention since the image is disappearing, and may be difficult to see due to its high position on the wall.

Technical necessities

A high wall in order to present the entire vertical (approx. 2,80 meters)
The wall will be stained after the performance, as well as the floor (a protective covering can of course be envisaged).
A microphone and speaker, the kind used for public lectures will do perfectly.
Table, chair and desk lamp.
Ladder, bleach.

Daniel CLAUZIER, 2007