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Documenting an Artist: Part 2

We all have some sort of journaling practice. Whether it is the handwritten messages you find in the margins of your favorite book, the post-its that clutter your desk, or even the iphone notes that somehow reside on your phone indefinitely- we all have some way of documenting our own thoughts. However, the majority of us must think these daily thoughts are not of much interest, as why else would we resort to using consumable and ephemeral methods of note taking? When one makes the effort to keep a proper diary of their life and thoughts, it is an act of kindness to oneself- saying “I want to remember this.” In a way, by doing this kindness for our thoughts, we begin to archive ourselves.

A page from Belén's earliest notebook. Here we see an example of her tactile nature, with an inspiration image stapled on one side of the page. To replicate the flow of information, this page was scanned 3 times- once as is, the second showing the full image, and the third having an unobstructed view of the pages.

Going back to Belén’s paper archives, one larger collection were her journals. Dating back from 2009, these notebooks were almost art objects themselves. Much like the other paper materials, these journals would frequently highlight the tactility the artist uses in her work, by adding a sense of materiality to an otherwise personal document. Inspiration images stapled between pages, doodles of future sculptural pieces, and even the day to day notes- these journals were one of the clearest examples of how the artist thinks and processes her work. “It’s a diary,” Belén would tell me, “there’s things in there I don’t think are so important.” One of her frequent phrases- but it couldn’t be further from the truth. From their personal aspect, we can see how life events, even if deemed “unimportant” by the artist, were in conversation with how the work was conceived or eventually made. 

From an archiving perspective, the challenge was replicating the experience of handling these notebooks. Luckily, the material was easily able to be scanned, but the tactility was another issue. My solution was to document pages as they were, but have a second (or sometimes a third or fourth) pass of scanning, where the material was able to be manipulated to show any additional information the artist had written or the pieces of ephemera that she had stapled in-between her notes. Images can not properly replicate the feeling that a physical book possesses, but with this documentation process, I hoped to at least present the information as naturally as it would be if you were to have the object in front of you.

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