Art Objects As Documents and the Distributed Identity of Contemporary Artworks

Wielocha, Aga (2021). Art Objects As Documents and the Distributed Identity of Contemporary Artworks ArtMatters International Journal of Technical Art History(1), pp. 106-113. Archetype Publications

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This paper examines the distinct function performed by objects in contemporary artworks, and draws attention to various non-object-based means by which artworks can be revealed to viewers. The discussion takes as its starting point the idea of contemporary art as a new paradigm of artistic practice, along with the concept of the art project, and the notion of the document as proposed by French documentalist Susanne Briet. These ideas will be examined through a piece by Danh Vo, which, despite unfolding around three physical artefacts, only becomes legible in light of stories the artist has communicated through means such as interviews and catalogues. As the identity of a contemporary artwork is distributed across the various objects, processes, concepts and contexts that shape it throughout its career, and because of its potential media variability, I argue that the information conveyed through other channels of communication might be equally important for the integrity of artworks as the art objects proper. Accordingly, this paper suggests that in contemporary art, the art objects themselves can be seen as documents on equal footing with other artwork-related documentation, and in consequence proposes to shift the significance, value, and therefore status of artwork-related documentation within the artwork understood as a collectible.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture


Wielocha, Aga0000-0001-8751-9574


N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


Archetype Publications




Aga Wielocha

Date Deposited:

31 Aug 2022 08:32

Last Modified:

04 Sep 2023 11:50

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