A segment of the essay on Felix Gonzalez-Torres by Miwon Kwon — concerning both portraiture and archives — from which the title for the workshop is taken:
“On the one hand, the simultaneous feeling of intimacy and distance that I am trying to describe is not untypical of a researcher’s encounter with material left behind in any archive. Digging through accumulated letters, photos, tapes, journals, notes, memorabilia, sketches, and other ephemera that once belonged to someone — saved for everyone and no one at the same time — the researcher finds herself an intruder (albeit one with exceptional privilege of access), Propelled by the hope of discovering unknown information or as-yet unarticulated insights, even secrets, regarding an artist and his or her work, the researcher moves through the archival terrain understanding its ultimate indifference to the specificity of her identity and desire. Nonetheless, she harbors the fantasy that, surely, the buried information, insights, and secrets have been waiting specifically for her gaze, for the narration that only she could give them. A world of private thoughts, feelings, and exchanges that were never meant for her eyes or ears coalesces as a palpable reality in her imagination. She thinks what she finds is familiar, even if her discoveries are contrary to her expectations. The researcher is rewarded with a sense of connection and continuity — with history, with ideas, with persons, with the reality of others, with truth. And even though this sense of connection and continuity is premised on insurmountable separation and discontinuity, the misrecognition provides a kind of solace that affirms her sense of self as a knowing and intelligent person, as if she’s fallen into some intimate alignment with the logic of a remote and foreign cosmos (of another person, time, place).” –Miwon Kwon, The Becoming of a Work of Art: FGT and a Possibility of Renewal, a Chance to Share, a Fragile Truce, published in Felix Gonzalez-Torres, edited by Julie Ault
All images from The Carl George / Felix Gonzalez-Torres / Ross Laycock archive at Visual AIDS. See the Visual Aids blog for more information.