How to select a set of cards and objects that offer an insight into critical reflection on practice?

It began as a problem of representation – a problem to be solved by finding those objects that best represented the whole – a problem, that is, with a possible resolution. I was trying to convey a process, an archive, a tool. What could most evoke a sense of what INDEX-SYSTEM is?

This is, of course, impossible. The entire premise of INDEX-SYSTEM is of an open system that identifies long-term trajectories, connects previously disparate work, and generates unexpected thinking. Its only representation is its entirety, and this exists only at the scale of my home.

And so, I began to approach the task as I would approach working on INDEX-SYSTEM itself: reading objects, responding to cards, adding, reclassifying, setting aside, seeing together. In doing so, the process became a compositional one, and the burden of representation was lost. Juxtaposition, contrast, comingled interpretation, rhythm and scansion: the very substance of INDEX-SYSTEM as a process for selecting from among its ephemera.

Spread across my table this evening are the index cards for PRESENCE, PRACTICE MODELS, PERCEPTION, INTIMACY, THE POLITICAL, and WHAT WRITING MEANS TO ME. There’s a postcard from a formative time, the celluloid of one of my short films, a sketch, three measuring instruments, a framed photograph of my grandmother taken in 1946, five spent 12ga shells, a polished ball of cloud-blue celestite, a scribbled note page, and some writing tools. There is also one blank index card.

Self-curation is a delicious curse. To present, to show, to indicate, to critique, to conserve, to frame, to make public what has otherwise existed only as a personal activity, a private space. Across two decades and in myriad ways I have approached the problem of how to develop and share ideas at the ideas stage: inarticulate, unresolved. I’m not sure whether that problem has a resolution.


INDEX-SYSTEM at Mailbox Art Space opens on Thursday evening 3 March 2016. Ben Eltham has handwritten a response which is presented along with the exhibition.