Which documents say what?
What shapes our sense of history if we also acknowledge that history is not the past but the commons (live)?1
Sit. Sit here. Sit here in this darkened room, built into the hillside, made of cast textured cement. The wind blows a gale outside as is usual for this time of year. Forever autumn; that feeling of a teenager, so alive to the world, the stretch and chisel of the bones growing into the body. But also the stretch and chisel of that teenager-into-worldness.
Sit. Sit here. Sitting here, in this darkened room, the click of the 35mm slide projector. Travelling through time through details of draping and pointed feet, arching across marble floors, bodies leaning into crossed swords, moons and suns, forests.
Bodies cast in light, against darkness.
Bodies from a distant time and place, those same bodies through which we—us—in that darkened room had been asked to read the world. The world order as we knew it then, 1996, as if western Europe, but Wellington.
I never learned as much as I did in sixth-form art history: Power, oppression, arousal, control, limitation, prejudice, inequity, the seasons, explosiveness, rebellion, and pure and utter joy.
It was there I understood that art, at least for me, offered the manifold answers to what I could see, even at sixteen, was the contradiction of human lived experience: The sensations of chains being wrapped around skin to control, the sensations of those same chains being used to adorn and seduce, those same chains being broken across the floor, rendered useless.