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Steal This Book
Dora García [see all titles]
Paraguay Press [see all titles]
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(p. 6-8)

If you have this book in your hands, chances are that you stand in an exhibition, in a room dedicated to the artist Dora García. Not far from you should be a sign that indicates that this book, or rather a certain number of these, is what constitutes the exhibited work. Equally not far from you, there should be a guard, who from time to time casts a glance in your direction and surveys your comings and goings. If you have opened this book and are reading these lines, you will also have cast a glance at the guard beforehand, and looked for a sign of approval or prohibition. If you now continue to read, you will not know whether the absence of any explicit sign in return for your mute questioning signifi es his complete indifference, his tacit approval, or whether he is now approaching and will express disapproval a moment from now.

It would equally be preferable to continue to peruse this introduction in a different place, at home for example, or in a café, at a moment and in a position in which you would be far more disposed to reading. The thought has already crossed your mind that it is particularly tiresome to read standing up in an exhibition, and this book, by all appearances, is made for reading; it is even composed of text alone. So? Take this book, put it in your pocket, in your bag, and leave. If you dare. If you don’t do it now, if you regret it later, you will have to come back, purchase another entrance ticket, and there will perhaps be another guard who is more aggressively disposed. After the end of the exhibition, it will no doubt be a very rare coincidence that you should fi nd this book, elsewhere, in this same confi guration. You will only be able to fi nd it at the Section 7 bookstore in Paris, the headquarters of Paraguay Press who published it. Besides, it would be a fair option for remunerating authors’ labours and to support independent publishing.

This book has the ambition of documenting eleven projects realised by Dora García between 2006 and 2008. These works are situations that were conceived by the artist; situations of interaction with varying contexts (an exhibition, a fair, a building, a city) and their different audiences, via intermediaries – professional actors, amateurs or people she met by chance – who are interpreters and are at the same time given the responsibility of incarnating characters, and functions, to make them exist in the real world, and to archive their existence by describing from day to day their actions and gestures. Very often, publications have accompanied and documented these performances, but this book illuminates a different side to the realisation of these works. What is published here is the private correspondence the artist had with these interpreters, before and during the performances’ existence. Slightly edited for purposes of legibility, this correspondence, essentially via email, is published in chronological order, in which it came into being. It is defi cient on various counts: fi rst because certain parts have been lost, and because the form itself of the epistolary exchange proposes a non-organised, non-hierarchical distribution of information, where trivial details go side by side with general points. The book’s meaning is therefore revealed in a fragmentary and elliptic way: a history «seen from below» that refuses – deliberately – to show an overall view of these works, or any offi cial line whatsoever, be it the artist’s viewpoint, or the critic’s, after the event. On the contrary, this correspondence with the actors, who share the responsibility of the work with the author, proposes a documentation that considers these works as so many phenomena. It shows how the latter are empirical constructions, the result of compromises between various interlocutors, perpetual adjustments of situations with their environment. Here, the artist is but one interlocutor among others, the spectator being another, and the work, according to the words of Jacques Rancière in Le Spectateur émancipé (The Emancipated Spectator), “is this third thing of which no one is the owner, of which no one possesses the meaning, which holds the mean between them, avoiding any identical transmission, of any identity of cause and effect.”