Dora García’s work is strongly characterized by the involvement of its viewers, who are urged to take a stand on ethically contentious questions, to commit themselves to a closer examination of these matters and to reflect on the institutional nature of the setting in which their encounter with works of art takes place.
Hers is a practice based on research, and one that focuses on subjects which recur and are woven into the whole fabric of her production, such as the interest in the history of anti-institutional movements (with particular attention to anti-psychiatry), the figure of the artist as outsider and mechanisms of communication, whether linguistic or not. These subjects are not explained to the viewer, but laid out with an attitude that verges on a challenge: documents, ambiguous reenactments in performances, lectures and talks, videos and books are presented in the exhibition space as archives, sophisticated sets of references, reworkings. Viewers have to choose their own key of interpretation, decide what attitude to take, the degree of interaction they wish to have with the work. Or remain impervious to the provocation of an enigmatic theme, ambiguously presented in such a way as to make people think. As a complement to this total openness of interpretation, García prepares a series of instruments, often in the form of websites, to share her sources with viewers, to inform them about her projects and keep them up to date on their development and to get to know their opinions and reactions through blogs and social networks.
Read with golden fingers (L’Innommable – Samuel Beckett), 2010
Object | Used book and gold leaf
13.5 x 18 cm
In the first decade of the twenty-first century Dora García began a series of works based on literary texts, which is still ongoing. In this series, in addition to manifesting her abiding interest in studying phenomena related to language and communication, the artist brings into play her capacity to explore — and to exploit in creative form — the links and crossovers between literature and performance, focusing in this case on the performative aspect of reading, that is to say, in its condition as act or action. The pieces in this series are one-off books, which the artist makes using paperback editions of works by her favourite authors, reading each one with her fingertips covered with gold leaf. The golden fingerprints that each reading leaves on the surface of the pages preserve, enduringly visible, the physical gestures inherent in the act of reading. An act at once universal and personal, potentially infinite and at the same time unrepeatably unique; an act that extends over a given time to establish, in the words of the artist, ‘a process of strange temporalities difficult to gauge, but very accessible if the gestures and movements of the reader are traced’. The golden marks of her fingers on the pages effectively bestow material entity on the reading as ‘an action that seems to leave no trace on the body, and yet nonetheless generates very complex temporalities between the infinite past of the text and the future of all its readers’.
The piece entitled Read with Golden Fingers (L’Innommable – Samuel Beckett), from 2010, which belongs to this series, was made on a copy of L’Innomable (1953), a long monologue in the first person in the course of which the narrator, whose identity is sketched for us with blurred and changing contours, reflects on the capacity of language and discourse to construct the reality around him and even his own essence. ‘The search for the means to put an end to things, an end to speech,’ the narrator affirms, ‘is what enables the discourse to continue.’ Echoing this perspective, it would seem to be the reading of the text by Dora García, with the golden trail this has left in its wake, which materializes the communicative act that is established between author and reader. In doing so she highlights — by making visible — the role of the viewer in his or her condition as co-participant on the literary act, while at the same time ‘muting’ the volume, leaving it unusable for further reading and thus cancelling its infinite potential as a tool for communication. The symbolic charge of gold — valuable, but also materially quantifiable — is overlaid on the literary discourse, in contrast with the immaterial and therefore incommensurable character of the act of reading.