A research project by Camel Collective, Fieldwork: Marfa 2013

Camel Collective is a name under which diverse artists have worked since 2005. We juxtapose the methodologies of archival research and dramatization, pitting instrumental reason against affect in an effort to incite an experience that, while stemming from research (institutions), is undisciplined by established discourse. While the interests of Camel Collective are varied, we have been preoccupied by the political economy of education, and the difficulties encountered by artist collectives. 
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Production Notes - Marfa - Camel Collective

We, (Anthony Graves and Carla Herrera-Prats, i.e. Camel Collective) have been using our time at Fieldwork Marfa to gather material for a series of works that relate to the subject of time, the image of time, and its relation to the landscape (and townscape) around Marfa and the Big Bend region. In particular we are interested in developing a series of works that deal with three temporal forms—labor time, geologic time, celestial time—and to show how they overlap, interrelate, and conflict.

An excursion to Big Bend National Park brought us to the imaginary and geographic border of the U.S. and Mexico—the Rio Grande—where, using a desktop scanner, we took samples of limestone strata on both sides of the border. The geologic irony of the resulting images is that the two sets of “photographic evidence” collected on both sides of the border are indistinguishable from one another. Before being parted by the eroding force of the Rio Grande, the limestone strata formed a continuous sheet. But, rather than a narrative of origins or primitive wholeness, the images we are collecting (constructing) are complicated by evidence of the non-identical within them, by human interventions (faint footprints discernable on the south side of the border, for example) and imagined boundaries.

Limestone is a material where two forms of image making overlap—first, the limestone itself is a kind of photographic device containing fossilized remains of creatures in the shallow sea that once covered the area; and second, limestone has served as a human technology of image making since the 19th century.

In 1851, the artist and cartographer Arthur Schott was approached by the U.S. government to aid in a survery of the U.S.–Mexico border. His drawings were published in The United States and Mexico Boundary Survey as 32 lithographs, drawings that charted the terrain along the newly created border.[i] Schott’s topographic drawings will serve as a kind of plan for a series of works that look at how his formal rendering of distance his landscapes is akin to the myopic renderings produced by the digital scanner.[ii]

In addition, we are currently attempting to gain access to the Chinati Foundation in order to shoot the conservation staff in their daily labors. Obviously, this is pointing to human time, the time of labor and the daily activity of upkeep of a collection. The Chinati Foundation’s, but much more so Donald Judd’s, mandate is photographic in nature—To create a static image of his intentions in the form of two institutions. We hope we’ll be able to shoot within the Chinati as a kind of rumination on the slippages between ideas of origins, intentions, and the landscape. The resulting footage will be material for a video that connects ideas of institutionalization and the labor of conservation with the apparently static landscape.

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