Since 1999, the Paris-based artist Charlotte Moth has worked on the Travelogue, a collection of photographs that she constantly updates. Her discovery of pictures that were taken by Raoul Hausmann in Ibiza in the 1930s became the basis of her exhibition “Noting Thoughts,” which is on view at the Musée Départemental d’Art Contemporain de Rochechouart until May 29.
I’M VERY INTERESTED IN A SCULPTURAL RELATIONSHIP TO EXPERIENCE. An image can later function as an aid to memory, it becomes a hybrid, and something perhaps better described as an “image-memory.” When I was in art school I was taking a lot of photographs, and for me that acted as a way of studying things, trying to learn what was around me. I was absolutely fascinated by the structural forms of architecture––all types––and using it as a way to think about how to generate work. This habit of taking photographs became very accumulative and naturally charted a kind of itinerancy or movement in space and place.
I really wanted to develop a relationship between research and looking, where research becomes work and work becomes research. So for me the photographs in the Travelogue are very structurally grounded in research. And this led to traveling to Paris, Marseille, London, Los Angeles, Kyoto, Hamburg, Maastricht, and Brussels, to name a few. The more you travel, the more you discover, and the more you read the more you want to travel.
For my show in Rochechouart, I really wanted to make a transition in space and time by using these tables to lay my photos on; they create a sort of horizon in the space. You’re walking around them and they become islands. You could read the layout as a narrative, but it’s very segmented––more like a three-dimensional book, as the images are mounted on folded metal sheets.
This year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the museum’s collection, and to mark it the institution invited two artists to produce a site-specific work that dealt with ideas of collection and archiving. I was very pleased to be chosen, and I decided to look at the archive of the Dada artist Raoul Hausmann, as it’s very special and the largest collection of his work. It includes all his photographs, even all his ties––Mr. Hausmann had a cravat fetish. But it has many of his writings and poetry too. I was kind of overwhelmed by these things in a very lovely way. Even though he was quite political, he was also a dancer, a poet, and a painter. So this archive is extensive.
I was particularly interested in the images from his stay in Ibiza from 1933 to 1936. To him, creating photographs was more like a making an anthropological survey of the island—it wasn’t just buildings that he liked; he was also taking pictures of people, landscapes, houses, plants, all this kind of stuff. Perhaps he was looking for an untouched land. When I went to Ibiza, I was surprised to feel like I had already been there, that I had ideas of what the land would be like, perhaps from looking through his archive. And the ironic thing, which isn’t really ironic at all, is that when I arrived in Ibiza for the first time I felt like I had already photographed it.