During Tangier – Madrid Suitcase*, I began reading Andre Gide & His Journal, an essay by Roland Barthes. I had a typewriter on the floor and I began to select sections and respond to the text in a loose and free-flowing way. The responses diminish to no response as my attention was taken elsewhere.
This is the text…
I doubt that the Journal has much interest, if reading the work has not awakened some initial curiosity as to the man.
What a way to start.
Immediately we see a clear divide between The Journal and The Work. If you aren’t interested in the work – the books written by Gide – then you won’t be interested in his journal.
The third divide of interest is then The Man.
Are not the man / the work / the journal the same thing?
Awakened initial curiosity – are these terms grouped exclusively? What about secondary curiosity? Is curiosity always awakened – as if it were dormant. And what is that endless dormant curiosity in the handwritten notes of writers – and here might be the fourth axis – The Writer. Today (maybe) the journal – the notebook of the writer sits in a different place to when RB was writing. We fetishise the origin of art – the process – we are aware that something took place….the genesis – the life of his books – his readings… (visible reading).
Hence we must not suppose that the Journal is in opposition to the work and not itself a work of art.
This after a quote from Gide (?) – pleading the insignificance of the notes in his journal. Not suppose / not itself – the Gide quote from 1929 – the essay by RB published 1942 – are we still considering notes as not works of art? The galleries lay out the archival in the centre of the room – it seems to have equal weight to the wall- hangings. What are the dangers of an appreciation for the insignificant bits not ‘retained by the sieve of any work’? I cannot see any.
They are no longer completely Gide; they begin to be outside him, en route for some unspecified work in which they want to appear, which they summon into being.
*Tangier – Madrid Suitcase was a live archiving performance that took place at HARI (Hull Artist Research Initiative) from 25th Oct to 29th Oct 2021. The Aimless Archive worked in the space from 09:00 to 18:00 archiving material that had been collected from a trip to Tangier and Madrid in 2018 and a second trip to Madrid in 2019.