Peter Suchin’s Museum of the Vexed Text (eight-card extract) presents excerpts from a twenty-year period of note-taking. Viewing these annotations might bring to mind our own similar notes, desks of clutter, revised diaries, lists of things to do, and suggest their presentation as a portrait of a particular personality. We might consider that, as any production appears to bear the stamp of its creator, so in any artwork traces of the artist’s ‘all-over-signature’ may be found. The cause of the vexed-ness of these texts might be the angst felt by Suchin in his daily life and the consequent difficulty of this inquiry into his personality.
In showing these in a gallery context the artist sets up a dilemma for the audience, are these genuine or not? Firstly, is he (what we perceive as the personality) genuine? Do we expect that if we were to meet Suchin that he would in some way, on some level, resemble these notes, such that the person and the product seem a ‘true’ match? Secondly, are the notes genuine? The accompanying text states that the ‘fiches’ (the card of choice) are chosen partly for their aesthetic appeal, suggesting that this same appeal might very well also influence the notes themselves. Do the materials modify his approach? Does the thought that the card may one day be displayed? Perhaps the piece is exploring something analogous to the Uncertainty Principle in physics; proposing that the setting-up of an experiment is enough in itself to effect the results; better experiments may be devised to minimise any influence, but there will always be some residual effect. There is always some noise, some subjective ‘uncertainty’ in our attempts to picture reality. Maybe this is where the vexation enters in: from the corner of our eye we see everyday scattered bits and pieces effortlessly settle into ‘genuine’ formations, but attempts to reproduce these invariably get entangled with our ego.
Rather than these possible interpretations the ‘vexed-ness’ here seems to result from the notes’ accepting of their necessarily self-conscious and aestheticised state, whilst they also attempt to address these various concerns, assert a position, suggest a way to be. That is, if the notes, in concrete terms, are a presentation of meaning, then rather than picture reality they, in this display, present us with a reality, where each incidental mark becomes an active exploration of possible values, possible understandings.
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