The El Dorado Commission

Scott Elliott


Artist Novel, 19.5 x 14 cm, 143 p, language: English, publisher: Vancouver: Publication Studio, ISBN: 978-1-927385-52-4.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2029/523).

Literary synopsis

The El Dorado Commission is an artist's novel that centres around the idea of ‘The Artist as Ethnographic Surrealist’. An extension of Scott Elliott's visual practice where he acts as a facilitator for those who have incomplete or abandoned artworks, the text follows the journey of an individual acting as a conduit for one of the dead American Romantic painters. He travels to South America to complete an unfinished painting of the mythical city of El Dorado, attempting to see the site first-hand after he becomes seduced by the image and believes it to be documentation.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

In Autumn of 2014, Scott Elliott began a project where he placed a Craigslist ad in dozens of cites worldwide, offering his services as a so-called avatar for artists with aborted or abandoned artworks. These works may have been abandoned for a variety of reasons, financially, lack of space, waning motivation, etc. It served as an almost emancipatory vehicle through which Elliott could disconnect one of his selves and adopt a new self, that of mechanised object, that of pragmatic engineer, the logical self. Continuing this idea of the facilitator as a sort of empty factory, through which information enters and exits freely, the artist's novel’s central character adopts the voice of others as the text progresses and he becomes a sponge where something of the other sticks to him. As the artist's novel progresses, through a process of fragmentation and a feeling of this being yet another assignment, it becomes clear that this person is in fact he who is commissioned to write the entire book. This artist's novel is one of his commissions. This fictionalised persona Elliott adopted for himself is the literary continuation of his physical production.

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