In a recent reading group, the term ‘Slasher’ was thrown up in the air to describe the particular place in the art world which one might place a person like Seth Price. Price is the writer of this article Dispersion, yet he is also an artist referenced within the piece, writer/artist (writer (slash) artist).
The nature of this category in which we find Price in, before Price writes or makes or types anything, might be used as a way of thinking through one of the relationships Price is concerned with in this article. In the same way that the role that Price occupies sets up an uneasy combination between artist and writer (or critic), the archive embodies the strained relationship between the artwork and the document, in particular, within the ‘unruly archive’, the internet (Price, 2002,11).
In the case of the artwork/document as much as in the writer/artist the slash indicates a sort of inescapability from either part of the phrase. The slash implies that there is no situation where one might completely disguise one half of the combination. One is reminded of the movie Stuck on You (dir. Farrelly brothers, 2003) in which Siamese twins, who share only a liver, at first revel in the advantages of their body (i.e. as a hockey goal keeper), but as the film and their lives progress, find themselves constantly struggling to keep the other part of themselves out of the picture (on dates, while one twin is acting).
While thinking about the relationship between the document and the artwork in this Siamese twin sort of way makes the advantages of such combinations appear and then unravel themselves, the idea of a ‘slasher’ has a nice sort of a violence embedded in its sound, in a way, it refers back to the violence of the archive, the violence in the relationship between objects and traces which Jacques Derrida explores in Archive Fever(1996, 2). Price highlights this violence and tension between the artwork and the document as he half sarcastically lists for the reader the documents that ‘make’ artworks, art; the documents of the gallery context, the documents of art criticism and review, the reproduction of the artwork as ‘a photograph in an art magazine’ (11).
Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Stuck On You. Dirs. Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly. Perfs. Matt Damon, Greg Kinear, Eva Mendes Prod. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corperation, 2003.
Price, Seth. “Dispersion.” Distributed History. 2002. March 12 2008 at 0805.