Marginalia: Tracking the Public

The Traveling Magazine Table (TMT) consists of a collection of a broad variety of international magazines, journals, and similar printed publications produced by non-profit and alternative spaces, artists’ collectives, groups, teams, and other forms of collaborations. The Traveling Magazine Table grants an unexpected insight in the discourses and networks existing outside the mainstream channels of art.”[1]

The TMT is the result of a series of exhibitions organized by Nomads & Residents, an artistic ensemble initiated by Bik Van der Pol and Cesare Pietroiusti. The originally proposed format established that during each iteration the collection would be completely available to the public and that it would grow larger by the additions the host institutions and public would do. The hosts were also responsible for the design of the exhibition/library/reading room making it hospitable for the reader.

The TMT is a child of its own time, originated in 2001 in NYC it is an example of what Nicholas Borriaud established in his book Relational Aesthetics (1998) where he noted how “The main effects of the computer revolution are visible today among artists who do not use computers,”[2] and how in the 1990s, with the exponential development of interactive technologies, artists explored “the arcane mysteries of sociability and interaction” applying to their projects concepts of openness and collaboration even when these were “offline”.

Since its inclusion in the CCS Bard Library and Archives the nature of the TMT collection changed: from the open ended, ever growing body to a closed cultural construct with its own system of arrangement, classification, logic, and purpose.[3] This exhibition treats the TMT as an object of inquiry and analysis, to recognize topics and values related to the concept of public that are repeated through out its years of activity. Tracking the Public reacts to the current stage of the TMT inside the archival collection and brings its contents back to the general public, commenting on the life cycle this type of projects have when transformed from their original intentions.

A magazine or a publication has a declared intention of making something public, and the format of the TMT enhanced this intention by broadening the public of this sectorial publications.  Today this intention is obscured by the archival life but on the other hand it receives a renewed attention when the archive is researched and pieces from it are selected.

An important aspect of this archive is its vastness (in formats, geographic origins and topics), a characteristic that clearly comes into play when exploring the collection. Multiple narratives can be found within the TMT. Tracking the Public shows a small selection related to the conceptual line of the research produced.  These narratives may seem separate in the exhibition space or this but are tremendously interrelated and overlap constantly.  The narratives presented are: art and its functions for the public, public space and its artistic interventions, imprisonment and the reclaiming the streets movements.

Tracking the Public not only tells the story behind the TMT and its current status, but it also explores the historical context in which this project was created. It brings our attention to issues that strike us as relevant and contested, even 15 years later: The role of art in a world of reduced and privatized public space, the obscurity of the law and invasions of privacy, the annulment of basic rights in the name of safety. All of these issues and more are present in the TMT and reconstructing their history can be a possible pathway to make them again maybe not traveling but yes accessible.




[1] Traveling Magazine Table – General Information, http://travelingmagazinetable.net/info

[2] Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, Les Presse du Reel, Paris 1998, p. 67. 

[3] Butler, Ann, Hybrid Identities: The Traveling Magazine Table Archive, http://travelingmagazinetable.net/texts/hybrid-identities 

 

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