This tiny exhibition aims at expanding a network and connecting artists by means of their ideas around translation, mailable art and affection for books in a digital world. They expand the definition of what a library, a book, a sentence and a word can be. Their works inhabit that exciting emptiness in between the lines of a text, the blank space of a page or inside a forgotten archival box.
No Todo – Niet Alles takes place in an archival box that once belonged to the legendary archive of Ulises Carrión in Amsterdam. The box reappeared from the shelves of another archive of artists’ books maintained by Johan Deumens. As a thread from a lost carpet, this box connects two archival structures: the archive of Ulises Carrión and the archive of Johan Deumens.
According to Johan Deumens, Carrión was a philosopher and essayist who finally became an artist of appearance and disappearance. His speciality was infiltration —into a certain medium— only to disappear again. In the most ideal case, he would stay invisible, as a strategic, abstract entity. His strongest points were never the lasting and tangible; his practice was more about initiating collaborations. When Carrión’s archive was dismantled in 1989, Johan Deumens secured the empty archival boxes and took them to his own archive, where he started using them to host other publications. As time passed and because the cardboard boxes were not acid free and did not meet conservation standards, they were discarded and apparently disappeared totally. That is, until one day, 30 years later, when one of these boxes turned up in a corner of the archive where even the archivist Deumens himself didn’t think it could be.
Its reappearance brought along an empty space filled with intriguing questions. If the function of an archive is conservation, why does oblivion always lurk upon every document it contains? And if the purpose of an archive is to survive time, why do archival methods become so rapidly outdated?
The exhibition takes place in the space of Carrión’s archival box, with contributions by artists that devote their practice to the contradictions inherent within every archive. It connects artists through photocopied publications, visible and invisible gestures, mailed work, objects that create letters and documents of etymological dissections. They all co-exist in the exciting emptiness of this archival box.
Since an archive doesn’t have an end or closing date and comes with a proposition towards infinity, this exhibition will continue to grow with more contributions over time by artists responding and relating to the topics and strategies that drove Ulises Carrión’s practice. In this way, the ongoing exhibition No Todo – Niet Alles shows that these strategies and ideas are very much still alive and relevant today. It acknowledges the inherent incompleteness of an archive, the various shapes a text can take, how words can be translated and the unexpected ways to inhabit the empty space of an archival box.