Latent Emissions, Chakaia Booker
There’s No Place Like Time
A Retrospective of Video Artist Alana Olsen
Scholz Family Works on Paper Gallery September 1 through December 2, 2018
There’s No Place Like Time is a novel you can walk through. It takes the form of a real retrospective of videos dedicated to the career of Alana Olsen, one of America’s most overlooked experimental video artists who never existed. An interplay of videos, texts, books, and interventions, There's No Place Like Time forms a multimodal installation that translates Alana’s life (which began as a fictional character in Lance Olsen's novel, Theories of Forgetting, 2014) into a three-dimensional reality.
From Alana Olsen’s videos and the language surrounding them (including a full-length fictional catalogue) you are invited to infer her development, obsessions, and relationship with her equally fictive daughter, Aila, a Berlin art critic and conceptual artist who curates the exhibit. There’s No Place Like Time remembers an oeuvre of fewer than 20 videos (some which are already missing) that span roughly four decades and have—despite the paucity of their numbers—influenced artists as varied as Lars von Trier, Douglas Gordon, and Martin Arnold.
One of Alana Olsen’s videos, Theories of Forgetting, appears as a link in Lance Olsen's novel by the same title. Olsen's novel, which forms the genesis of this exhibition, is itself based on another piece of art: Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (1970), a 1,500-foot long basalt-stone earthwork located in Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
There’s No Place Like Time takes part in a larger conceptual conversation investigating the problematics of identity construction and historical knowledge. Composed of various hypotheses, interventions, and troublings, the exhibition doesn’t seek to replicate, replace, or stand in for a past that never happened. Rather, it is meant to problematize the very idea of pastness — in today’s sad jargon, we might call it an investigation into the idea of alt-facts — while inviting a sort of choreography, a way of moving through experience, through the complications of identity, history, genre, and textuality.
Andi Olsen is the guest curator of the exhibition, which was requested by ND Professor Steve Tomasula, Department of English, the Creative Writing Program. It will be the focus of his Fall 2018 class on hybrid writing and be on view during the &NOW Festival of Innovative Writing.