Responding to the frantic, often violent transformations of the 21st century, contemporary artists have shown a growing desire to activate art’s documentary capacity and its ability to bear witness to world events.
The Storyteller presents a group of international artists who use stories as a way to understand and convey political and social events. All of the works in The Storyteller revolve around situations that are either in the process of unfolding or that continue to impact the lives of the artists or protagonists. However, in each case, these events are re-imagined and, therefore, re-experienced, through the artist’s personal encounter or the character’s narration.
Unlike artists in previous years, the artists in The Storyteller do not adopt the idea of documentary truth as an object of their critique or abandon fact for fable. Rather, they let the individuals (whether themselves, their subjects or their audience) build the story of their unique participation in historical processes, presenting them in a new and unexpected light.
For these artists, stories function neither as purely imaginative narrative nor as verifiable information. Rather they constitute a document of a different sort, one whose focus is less empirical accuracy than the reality of events as they are encountered, experienced and transmitted by thinking, receiving subject and an active listener. The story is at once temporal and personal, public and communal. It persists through the listener’s interpretive process and through each subsequent retelling.
In some cases, the artist’s ‘story’ takes the form of a drama based on real events, while in others, it functions less as a reconstruction of the past than an investigation into the relationship between past and present. A third group appeals to different literary genres, while the fourth strikes up a dialogue with active participants in contemporary political situations that the projects then serve to narrate.