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Archival Art: Memory Practices, Interventions, and Productions



The widespread preoccupation with memory continues to endure in contemporary art, academic discourses, and social practices such as commemorations, observances, and memorials across the globe. Archives, as spaces of and catalysts for memory, play a central role in society’s modes of remembering, and over the past several decades, artists’ engagements with archives – whether as source, concept, or subject – has turned a spotlight on the workings and transmissions of archival memory. This essay examines some of the critical activators of contemporary art practice with archives to contemplate the mnemonic possibilities of archives and artworks made with them.
Archival Art: Memory Practices, Interventions, and Productions
Abstract The widespread preoccupation with memory continues to endure in contemporary art,
academic discourses, and social practices such as commemorations, observances, and memorials across
the globe. Archives, as spaces of and catalysts for memory, play a central role in societys modes of
remembering, and over the past several decades, artistsengagements with archives whether as source,
concept, or subject has turned a spotlight on the workings and transmissions of archival memory. This
essay examines some of the critical activators of contemporary art practice with archives to contemplate
the mnemonic possibilities of archives and artworks made with them.
In 2004, art historian and critic Hal Foster
identified an ‘archival impulse’ at work interna-
tionally since the mid-1990s in the contempo-
rary visual art world (Foster, 2004). Likewise,
dance theorist Andre Lepecki in 2010 noted a
concerted interest in and drive to re-enact
dances sweeping the contemporary dance world
for two decades, which he called a “will to
archive” (Lepecki, 2010, 29). Additionally, in
2013, performance studies scholar Heike Roms
observed an ‘archive fever’ currently “gripping
performance scholarship, curatorship and prac-
tice” (Roms, 2013, 35). Indeed, over the past
several decades, many artists and art curators,
critics, and theorists have critically explored and
continue to reflect upon the forms and functions
of institutional, mass-culture, notional, or per-
sonal archives and the subjectivities and identi-
ties, positionalities and knowledge, agencies
and imaginaries they evoke and construct. In
the opposite direction, the archival world’s
interest in how artists approach, use, and trans-
form archives has led to a burgeoning
movement within archival practice and scholar-
ship over the past decade: the hosting of artist-
in-residence projects in archives and a growing
body of research about such residencies and the
archival turn in the arts.
What has provoked, and continues to pro-
voke, the nexus between contemporary art prac-
tice and the archive? The question of the archive
in contemporary art goes hand in hand with the
question of memory in the archive. How does
memory articulate (or not) in the archive? How
does archival memory (or lack thereof) influence
contemporary art-making? What kinds of
memory work do artists do with archives, and
what does this reveal about contemporary art
practice and the archive?
This article explores these questions by first
looking at two sociocultural trends foundational
to archival art-making: the archival turn across
the academy and the memory boom in both aca-
demia and the public sphere. Then, following a
brief review of the nature of memory from an
archival studies perspective, this essay considers
the critical art practices (creative processes,
artistic actions, and works of art) of several
Kathy Carbone ( is a Postdoctoral Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Information
Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
©2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 257
Volume 63 Number 2April 2020
prime instigators and movers of the archival art
genre over the past twenty years.
Rather than
creating an encyclopedic account of these art
practices, I have chosen instead to develop my
arguments through a close analysis of practices
that I understand to be exemplary of conversa-
tions tied to memory within the archival field.
Finally, this essay argues that besides being
compelling mnemonic assemblages and tools
for engaging and reflecting on the past, archival
artworks can also push the boundaries of the
imagination to address present circumstances
and focus visions of the future.
The Greater Archival Turn
Since the 1990s, the ‘archival turn’ in the
humanities and social sciences a preoccupa-
tion with the archive as a symbol for expressions
of power, what is remembered or forgotten in
society, and what is knowable and who has the
power to make knowledge has brought the
archive into wider views and discussions. There
are a variety of vantage points about what com-
prises or motivates this turn. For instance,
anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler writes that the
archival turn “registers a rethinking of the mate-
riality and imaginary of collections and of what
kind of truth claims lie in documentation” (Sto-
ler, 2002, 94). Feminist scholar Kate Eichhorn,
on the other hand, understands the turn as a
response to the political and economic impacts
of the turn to neoliberalism, arguing that:
a turn toward the archive is not a turn
toward the past but rather an essential way of
understanding and imagining other ways to live
in the attempt to regain agency in
an era when the ability to collectively imagine
and enact other ways of being in the world has
become deeply eroded (Eichhorn, 2013, 9).
Stoler’s and Eichhorn’s ideas highlight
some of the shifts in thinking about the nat-
ure and role of the archive through the
archival turn. In their conceptualizations the
archive, although historically embedded, is
not about the past but about the future of
the past and is a vital source for inquiry as
well as a subject of inquiry that can inspire
new ways of envisioning and living in the
The Memory Explosion
The archival impulse in the arts also
aligns with the thriving interdisciplinary and
international preoccupation with memory
since the 1990s. Memory is a significant con-
cept of discourse across academic fields,
including history, archival and recordkeeping
studies, media studies, religious studies, soci-
ology, psychology, and literary studies. Mem-
ory also plays a vital role in social practices,
such as commemorations and observances
(anniversaries, centennials, memorials) across
the globe. According to memory scholar
Astrid Erll, the global fascination with mem-
ory and flourishing of memory practices can
be mainly attributable to three things (Erll,
2011). First are the numerous historical
transformations, including the loss of the
generation that had first-hand experience of
the Holocaust and World War II, the disso-
lution of the Soviet Union which engendered
a plethora of ethnic and national memories,
and truth and reconciliation processes (in
South Africa, for example), to name a just a
few. Secondly, Erll argues that changes in
media technology such as the increase in pos-
sibilities for data (memory) storage and
258 Focus: Art & Archives: Archival Art: Memory Practices, Interventions, and Productions
sharing and the role of popular media,
including the proliferation of period pictures
and documentaries, are fueling interests in
and practices of memory. Lastly, Erll con-
tends that developments within academia,
particularly post-structuralism and postmod-
ernism the end of grand narratives and the
embrace of the idea of the constructed nature
of the past have influenced memory dis-
Memory in the Archive
Archives have long been associated with
memory. Within the archival field, there are
diverse conceptualizations about the working
and nature of memory in the archive ideas that
deny the pastness and center the dynamism of
both memory and the archive. Laura Millar, for
instance, imagines archives as “triggers, as
touchstones” that rouse memory (Millar, 2006,
125), whereas Terry Cook considers archives to
be “constructed memories about the past, about
history, heritage, and culture, about personal
roots and familial connections, and about who
we are as human beings” (Cook, 2013, 101).
Brien Brothman, on the other hand, under-
stands archives to have a social memory function,
whose role is not so much “to construct the
remoteness and preserve the difference of the
past” but instead to “articulate cycles of continu-
ity, recurrence, and repetition” (Brothman,
2001, 65). Furthermore, he continues, “the
record content of memory forms part of a corpo-
rate forms part of the system in
place, the ‘living, momentary setting’”. Lastly,
Terry Cook and Joan M. Schwartz write that
are not passive storehouses of old stuff, but
active sites where social power is negotiated,
contested, confirmed. By extension, memory is
not something found or collected in archives,
but something that is made, and continually re-
made (Cook & Schwartz, 2002, 172).
Prime Movers
One of the first art exhibitions (and its
eponymous catalog) focused on archives was
Deep Storage: Collecting, Storing, and Archiving
in Art (1997). Curator Ingrid Schaffner initi-
ated, curated, and co-produced Deep Storage at
the Haus der Kunst in Munich, which featured
over 100 works including paintings, ready-
mades, books, and photographs by more than
40 European and American artists who engaged
archiving and storage as symbol, imagery, or
practice (Schaffner, 1998, 10). The exhibition
traveled to venues in Berlin (1997), Dusseldorf
(1998), New York City (1998), and Seattle
(19981999). There was also the Interarchive
project and exhibition at the University of
Luneberg (19971999), led by Dusseldorf artist
Hans Peter Feldmann and curator Hans Ulrich
Obrist. Interarchive centered on an archive of
over 1,000 boxes of material books, catalogues,
invitation cards, correspondence Obrist
amassed in the course of his work as a curator in
the 1990s. The book, Interarchive: Archival
Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field,
documents the exhibition and some of the
inventive procedures the curators employed
with the objects, such as ordering objects by
their material aspects such as smell, weight,
physical state, and surface properties instead of
by provenance, subject, or year (von Bismarck,
Feldmann, Ulrich, Stoller, & Wuggenig, 2002).
The book also presents over 60 different views
of archiving practice and the potentials of mem-
ory in contemporary art.
Kathy Carbone 259
Volume 63 Number 2April 2020
Perhaps the most influential and well-
known instigator of the archival turn in the arts
is art critic and curator Okwui Enwezor’s 2008
exhibition at the International Center of Pho-
tography in New York City entitled, Archive
Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art.
Enwezor also authored a book with the same
title, with both the exhibition and the book tak-
ing their inspiration from Jacques Derrida’s
Archive Fever (Derrida & Prenowitz, 1996).
According to Enwezor, the exhibition aimed to
highlight how “archival documents, informa-
tion gathering, data-driven visual analysis, the
contradictions of master narratives, the inven-
tion of counter-narratives...the projection of
the social imagination into sites of testimony
and witnessing” inspire and animate contempo-
rary artistic practices (Enwezor, 2008, 22). The
exhibition featured video and photographic
works of over 20 visual artists who contemplated
memory, time, history, and identity through
investigations of the structural and functional
foundations of the archive and the appropria-
tion of archival materials. Finally, in 2013, the
New Museum in New York City held Perfor-
mance Archiving Performance, a series of perfor-
mance art and dance projects that engaged the
archive as medium and body as archive.
Tactics and Works
Artists apply a variety of critical and aes-
thetic approaches to the archive, and their archi-
val interventions are often concerned with
constructions of meaning, challenging or pro-
voking change in a situation or condition, open-
ing out possibilities for new meaning-making
processes, and providing alternative and more
socially situated meanings that diverge from an
‘official’ interpretation. Archival artworks fore-
ground several phenomena: the multiple ways
in which the archive is always subject to
negotiation and interpretation; the material,
relational, affective, and performative aspects of
the archive; and the many ways in which the
archive is built on return, repetition, recogni-
tion, and association.
One popular tactic that artists employ with
archives is to invent or fabricate archival materi-
als or an archive itself to question absences,
expose missing or silenced voices, or address
gaps in institutional archives and collective his-
tory bringing attention to the fragmentary and
incomplete nature of archives. One well-known
work that tackles a missing history from the
archives is a collaboration between filmmaker
and photographer Cheryl Dunye and photogra-
pher, installation artist, and filmmaker Zoe
Leonard entitled, The Fae Richards Photo
Archive (1996). This fabricated and imaginary
photographic archive depicts the life of Fae
Richards, an African-American lesbian actress
and blues singer who is a fictional character in
Dunye’s film, The Watermelon Woman (1996).
Dunye, unsuccessful in finding archival records
about African American lesbians in Hollywood,
created with Leonard the imaginary archive for
the film, which comprises seventy-eight gelatin
silver prints, four chromogenic prints, and a
notebook of typed text (Bryan-Wilson &
Dunye, 2013). Dunye and Leonard staged and
designed each candid shot, still picture, family
photograph, and publicity photograph with
period-specific make-up, clothing, and accou-
trement. Although Dunye and Leonard created
a story and an archive that are fictional, they
both none-the-less ring true (and could easily
have been actual) because the real-life women
and their stories that indeed existed went
undocumented. Dunye and Leonard’s work
calls to mind the power of what archival scholars
Anne Gilliland and Michelle Caswell term
“imagined-but-unavailable records”, which can
serve as “fertile sources of personal and public
260 Focus: Art & Archives: Archival Art: Memory Practices, Interventions, and Productions
affect that is not only a significant human and
ethical consideration in itself but also can be
activated and manipulated for a variety of politi-
cal and social ends” (Gilliland & Caswell, 2015,
55). The Fae Richards Photo Archive was on exhi-
bition at the Whitney Museum of American
Art in New York City in its 1997 Biennial, and
the Whitney subsequently acquired the work.
Artists also model artworks on archival
practices such as collecting, arrangement,
description, classification, and preservation or
adopt archival forms such as inventories, boxes,
storage systems, or labels in their work. Addi-
tionally, artists often foreground or interrogate
a particular aspect of the archive such as how
knowledge is organized or the archive’s claim to
authenticity or authority. Contemporary media
artist Walid Raad mobilized almost all of the
above methods in his Atlas Group Archive
(19892004), and similar to Dunye and Leo-
nard, fabricated an archive (including fictitious
archival creators and donors) that considers
relations between memory, history, fact, and fic-
tion evoking Jacques Ranciere’s notion that
the “real must be fictionalized in order to be
thought” (Ranciere, 2004, 38). From 1989
through 2004, Raad and his fictional group of
collaborators, “The Atlas Group,” donated
items to and produced the Atlas Group Archive, a
virtual archive authored by imaginary individu-
als or organizations and comprising manipu-
lated films, photographs, lectures, notebooks,
and essays about real events in contemporary
Lebanese history, with a particular focus on the
Lebanese wars (19751991).
For example, Dr.
Fadl Fakhouri, a ‘well-known’ but fictional
Lebanese historian, deposited a notebook in the
archive containing images of cars of the same
make, model, and color as those used in car
bomb attacks during the Lebanese wars. Here,
the documentary information is factual, but
notes and annotations made by Fakhouri
attached to the images are fictional. Further,
Raad mimicked the organizational logic of
archives by arranging his archive’s materials into
three fonds or groups, each with accompanying
text establishing their provenance. Raad dis-
seminated the archive online, in a series of pub-
lications, and through lecture-performances in
museums such as the 2002 Whitney Biennial.
Artists also juxtapose or blend the ‘unofficial’
with the ‘official’ by incorporating collected objects
or personal items into archives. Installation artists
Susan Hiller and Sophie Calle both used this
approach in two separate art installations at the
Freud Museum in London (Sigmund Freud’s last
home that contains his library and art collection,
artifacts, souvenirs, andfamilyfurniture).For
example, in From the Freud Museum (1994), Hiller
put materials from Freud’s collections together
with items she had collected, “rubbish, discards,
fragments, trivia and reproductions which
seemed to carry an aura of memory” (Hiller,
2000, Afterward). One such piece from this
installation is Journey, which contains a photocopy
of an image from Freud’s art collection in combi-
nation with fossils Hiller found in the desert near
Mt. Sinai. Calle, on the other hand, in her instal-
lation entitled, Appointment With Sigmund Freud
(1998), placed among Freud’s artifacts a wig, let-
ters from a lover, and a wedding photograph, and
laid her wedding dress across Freud’s couch. By
bringing their own stories into Freud’s archives
and placing different memory regimes together,
both Hiller’s and Calle’s installations disrupt the
ordering and authenticity of the archive, articulate
relations between official and personal memory,
and make new linkages between people, events,
temporalities, and objects.
Finally, artists often transform records from
institutional archives into performances that
interrogate dominant power structures, chal-
lenge or reframe history, or bear witness to those
silenced, oppressed, or marginalized. An
Kathy Carbone 261
Volume 63 Number 2April 2020
example of this archival performance method is
theater group Rimini Protokoll’s ambulatory
audio-installation entitled, 50 Kilometres of Files
(2011). For this piece, participants were
equipped with headphones, a smartphone, and
a map, and while walking the streets of Berlin,
heard in specific locations narrations from the
Stasi files recordings of telephone conversa-
tions of and interviews with Stasi victims
transporting participants back to the atmo-
sphere of the Cold War and the political and
military tensions between the Western and the
Eastern bloc after World War II. 50 Kilometres
of Files’ activation and reanimation of Cold War
records not only blurs relations and creates a
dialogue between past and present but demon-
strates how archival artworks can (re)present
and transmit past human experience and socio-
political worlds.
Artistic practices are “‘ways of doing and
making’ that intervene in the general distribu-
tion of ways of doing and making as well as the
relationships they maintain to modes of being
and forms of visibility” (Ranciere, 2004, 13).
Archival art-making intervenes in and grows
the ways that we do, make, and experience
memory as well as counter-memory and
makes visible the different ways in which mem-
ory is both mediated and constructed and medi-
ates and constructs the past, the present, and
future action. Archival art-making extracts
latent, un-actualized energies from the archive,
creating forms of expression and sensation that
reveal the archive’s endless compositional and
re-creational drive and significant aesthetic,
relational, social, and political potencies. Lastly,
archival art not only shows how archives and
artworks are both social and cultural practices
and forms of memory that shape identities and
our understandings of the past and present, but
are also ever-evolving commentaries and living
debates, systems of possibilities, and processes
of connectivity given for future encounter and
meaning-making to come. END
1. See Bibliography for recommended further read-
2. As the international archival art genre is broad
(and this essay short), my choices and discussions
of who and what are the prime movers of this art
form are by necessity selective and non-exhaustive
and focus on archival art practice in the US, UK,
and Europe.
3. See:
von Bismarck, B., Feldmann, H.-P., Ulrich, O. H.,
Stoller, D., & Wuggenig, U., Eds. (2002).
Interarchive: Archival practices and sites in the
contemporary art field. Koln: Buchhandlung
Walther Konig.
Brothman, B. (2001). The past that archives keep:
memory, history, and the preservation of archival
records. Archivaria, 51, 4880.
Bryan-Wilson, J., & Dunye, C. (2013). Imaginary
archives: A dialogue. Art Journal, 72(2), 8289.
Cook, T. (2013). Evidence, memory, identity, and
community: Four shifting archival paradigms.
Archival Science, 13(23), 95120.
Cook, T., & Schwartz, J. M. (2002). Archives,
records, and power: From (Postmodern) theory
to (Archival) performance. Archival Science, 2(3
4), 171185.
Derrida, J., & Prenowitz, E. (1996). Archive fever: A
Freudian impression. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.
Eichhorn, K. (2013). The archival turn in feminism:
outrage in order. Philadelphia: Temple University
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Enwezor, O. & International Center of
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document in contemporary art. New York;
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Erll, A. (2011). Memory in culture. Translated by Sarah
B. Young. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire:
Palgrave Macmillan.
Foster, H. (2004). Archival impulse. October, 110, 322.
Gilliland, A. J., & Caswell, M. (2015). Records and
their imaginaries: Imagining the impossible,
making possible the imagined. Archival Science,
16(1), 5375.
Hiller, S. (2000). After the Freud Museum. London:
Book Works.
Lepecki, A. (2010). The body as archive: Will to re-
enact and the afterlives of dances. Dance Research
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Millar, L. (2006). Touchstones: Considering the
relationship between memory and archive.
Archivaria, 61, 105126.
Ranciere, J. (2004). The politics of aesthetics: The
distribution of the sensible. Translated by Gabriel
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governance. Archival Science, 2(12), 87109.
Art in Liverpool (2018). The Liverpool University
Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) Launch
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history and memory. Archives and Records, 38(1),
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Vaknin, J., Stuckey, K., Lane, V., Phillpot, C., &
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Libri Publishing.
Kathy Carbone 263
Volume 63 Number 2April 2020
... Historically, only elites would have been able to create, maintain, and access archives, which they used to uphold claims of truth and legitimacy in order to secure their rule (Lowenthal 2007). Archives are no longer trusted as pure witnesses to historical fact, however, and this suspicion toward the impartiality of the archival record, along with the "memory boom" that has extended from academia to the public sphere and to the arts, has seen an explosion in the creation of independent archives and counter-memory projects (Flinn 2011;Carbone 2020). The archive may no longer pretend to any kind of historical objectivity, but as "a symbol for expressions of power, what is remembered or forgotten in society, and what is knowable and who has the power to make knowledge", its use as an aesthetic strategy is significant (Carbone 2020, p. 258). ...
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If gentrification is a violent form of “un-homing” (Elliot-Cooper et al., p. 494), then it is no surprise to witness an intensification of photographic practice in gentrifying areas; photography is, after all, fundamentally a place-making practice. Taking “home” to include the wider neighborhood and urban environment (Blunt and Sheringham 2019), this paper argues that the concept of anticipatory nostalgia is a useful way of understanding the recent wave of black and white photography in gentrifying areas. As well as signifying a sense of loss, anticipatory nostalgia, defined as missing the present before it has gone (Batcho and Shikh 2016), can also be seen as an aesthetic strategy of documenting places before they are lost to gentrification. Using the works of Colby Deal (Beautiful, Still), Jules Renault (Suspended in Time), and Lorenzo Grifantini (W10) as case studies, this paper argues that this type of photography, which explicitly utilizes an archival aesthetic, invites spectators to interrogate the intimate ties between home, memory, and identity. While melancholic, these images serve as a call to action and a form of speculation about the future—rejecting the shiny, computer-generated aesthetics of gentrification for a humanized, often gritty, and authentic version of home.
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... H401's activities use the historic fabric of the house on Herengracht 401 as an archive for an interdisciplinary and thematically driven programme wherein the relationship between memory and art plays a central role. Kathy Carbone reminds us of the nature and role of the archive after the archival turn and argues that, although historically embedded, the archive is 'not about the past but about the future of the past and is a vital source for inquiry as well as a subject of inquiry that can inspire new ways of envisioning and living in the world.' (Carbone 2020). It is exactly in this sense that H401 focuses on their historic fabric as a source to think about the societies we live in today and how these can become more inclusive. ...
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Herengracht 401 (H401), until 2019 known as Castrum Peregrini, represents the complex and intriguing history of a hermetic community of artists and scholars in Amsterdam which was formed in the years of the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, 1940–1945.This article attempts to take stock on what we have learned in these ten years about the history of the place, as an indicator of memory politics. It also reflects on the hermeneutic gap of what we cannot know of H401’s history as we lack experiential knowledge of eyewitnesses. As the author argues below, the site of H401 shows how the ‘hermeneutic gap’ can offer a chance to make an archive, such as in the case of ‘the house on Herengracht 401’, productive and meaningful through the artistic practice of research.
Artists have long been interested in the archival process. Their work examining and critiquing archives and archival concepts has attracted considerable scholarly attention; however, little attention has been paid to the perspectives of archivists, focusing instead on those of artists themselves, as well as critical theorists. This article focuses on how archivists consider and harness archives in their practice, examining their use of archives in exhibitions within museum and gallery settings (and, briefly, within libraries). Drawing on interviews with archivists and designers, this paper explores the display of archives through four key themes: contextualising (and, in turn, shaping) the exhibition of artworks; providing insights into the creative processes of artists and writers; enabling institutions to reflect on their collecting and curating practices; and using archives as objects for display in themselves. The discussion demonstrates a range of different perspectives that reveals the transformative possibilities of archives and their exhibition.
Parquear Bando is an urban intervention designed for up to 20 people to perform in urban city centres. While describing this urban intervention and analysing parts of the material available in the online pilot publication, we will discuss the limits and potentialities of a digitization process for this improvised performance. We question whether it would be possible to use digital annotations as support for future performances of this collective action without the physical presence of its facilitators but still maintaining the main concerns and principles of Parquear Bando. The three-day workshop shares the intervention’s most common structure and composes a performance to be shown in a selected place of each city. During the Motion Bank Lab Brazil 2019, we started to create a digital archive for the workshop with the aim of finding a consistent documentation model using video annotations, recording interviews and digitizing some of the choreographers’ notebooks. Beyond the digital archive of this urban intervention, we are also interested in making the score and movement principles of this piece available to other groups who could perform Parquear Bando in different contexts.
In this article we engage in a co‐authored autoethnographic conversation on Art‐as‐Archive and Archive‐as‐Art. Through the lenses of critical archiving theory and practice, we explore the societal roles that the cabaret and the archive play in storytelling, witnessing, and memorialising. We discuss how from the beginning the cabaret has played a radical, transgressive role as art and archive on the edges of society. By contrast, the traditional archive has privileged information elites and sustained the embedded racism, classism, sexism and heteronormativity of colonial structures and infrastructures. Yet, like the cabaret, the archive holds radical potential and possibilities to subvert, undermine and reconfigure our understandings and societal constructs. Consideration of the cabaret‐as‐archive and archive‐as‐cabaret provokes us to re‐imagine archival spaces as radical, performative nodes in the vast networks of the Archival Multiverse.
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Over the past several decades the archival turn in contemporary art practice has produced a panoply of visual, performance and literary art works that activate the archives. Artists working within this turn often employ critical-aesthetic strategies to records in order to reconsider historical narratives, expose missing or silenced voices, interrogate modes of representation, or investigate relations between official and personal memory through art-making processes and works. Other artists combine these strategies with socially and community-engaged practices, as did poet Kaia Sand and interdisciplinary artist Garrick Imatani, who were artists-in-residence at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center in Portland, Oregon from 2013 to 2015. This paper explores how Sand and Imatani affectively engaged history and memory with a collection of police surveillance records, transforming records of control into works of art that commemorate the lives and work of activists. Employing interdisciplinary thinking about the nature, use and movement of records through time, space and circumstances, this paper argues that records are affectively charged objects able to evoke sensations and feelings, orient thought, and stimulate ideas about ways in which they can be used, which in turn generate new connections, relations and possibilities between the past, present and future.
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In the 1990s, a generation of women born during the rise of the second wave feminist movement plotted a revolution. These young activists funneled their outrage and energy into creating music, and zines using salvaged audio equipment and stolen time on copy machines. By 2000, the cultural artifacts of this movement had started to migrate from basements and storage units to community and university archives, establishing new sites of storytelling and political activism. The Archival Turn in Feminism chronicles these important cultural artifacts and their collection, cataloging, preservation, and distribution. Cultural studies scholar Kate Eichhorn examines institutions such as the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University, The Riot Grrrl Collection at New York University, and the Barnard Zine Library. She also profiles the archivists who have assembled these significant feminist collections. Eichhorn shows why young feminist activists, cultural producers, and scholars embraced the archive, and how they used it to stage political alliances across eras and generations. A volume in the American Literatures Initiative.
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This paper argues that the roles of individual and collective imaginings about the absent or unattainable archive and its contents should be explicitly acknowledged in both archival theory and practice. We propose two new terms: impossible archival imaginaries and imagined records. These concepts offer important affective counterbalances and sometimes resistance to dominant legal, bureaucratic, historical and forensic notions of evidence that so often fall short in explaining the capacity of records and archives to motivate, inspire, anger and traumatize. The paper begins with a reflection on how imagined records have surfaced in our own work related to human rights. It then reviews some of the ways in which the concept of the imaginary has been understood by scholarship in other fields. It considers how such interpretations might contribute epistemologically to the phenomenon of impossible archival imaginaries; and it provides examples of what we argue are impossible archival imaginaries at work. The paper moves on to examine specific cases and “archival stories” involving imagined records and contemplate how they can function societally in ways similar to actual records because of the weight of their absence or because of their aspirational nature. Drawing upon threads that run through these cases, we propose definitions of both phenomena that not only augment the current descriptive, analytical and explicatory armaments of archival theory and practice but also open up the possibility of “returning” them (Ketelaar in Research in the archival multiverse. Monash University Press, Melbourne 2015a) as theoretical contributions to the fields from which the cases were drawn.
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Reporting on components of an exploratory study (2013-14) of the inaugural artist-in-residence program at the City of Portland Archives & Records Center in Oregon, this article provides a view of the experiences and actions of the archivists, the artists, and the public arts manager participating in the residency. It pays particular attention to how the artists conceptualize, use, and respond to archival records, how and where the records circulate as works of art and poetry, and how connections are formed around the use and reuse of records. The study suggests that examining the records used in such a residency from the standpoints of their forms, uses, and paths through space and time is a productive way to reflect on the human transactions, experiences, and relationships that can occur between records, art, poetry, and the archive. © 2015, Association of Canadian Archivists. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements PART I: INTRODUCTION: WHY 'MEMORY'? Why 'Memory'? Why Now? What Is Meant by 'Memory'? Memory, Remembering, or Forgetting? Goals and Structure of this Book PART II: THE INVENTION OF CULTURAL MEMORY: A SHORT HISTORY OF MEMORY STUDIES Maurice Halbwachs: Memoire collective Aby Warburg: Mnemosyne Pathos Formulas and a European Memory of Images Pierre Nora's Lieux de memoire - and Beyond Aleida and Jan Assmann: The Cultural Memory PART III: THE DISCIPLINES OF MEMORY STUDIES Historical and Social Memory Material Memory: Art and Literature Mind and Memory: Psychological Approaches PART IV: MEMORY AND CULTURE: A SEMIOTIC MODEL Metaphors - Productive, Misleading, and Superfluous, or: How to Conceive of Memory on a Collective Level Material, Social, and Mental Dimensions of Memory Culture Autobiographical, Semantic, and Procedural Systems of Cultural Memory Related Concepts: Collective Identity and Cultural Experience PART V: MEDIA AND MEMORY Media and the Construction of Memory The History of Memory as the History of Media Medium of Memory: A Compact Concept Functions of Media of Memory Concepts of Media Memory Studies PART VI: LITERATURE AS A MEDIUM OF CULTURAL MEMORY Literature as a Symbolic Form of Cultural Memory Literary Text and Mnemonic Context: Mimesis Literature as a Medium of Collective and Individual Memory PART VII: AFTERWORD: WHITHER MEMORY STUDIES? Index
Does "the past" take on different meanings in the contexts of history and memory? Does the answer to this question have any bearing on archives? This article answers affirmatively to both these questions. Its main argument is that ascribing a distinctive meaning to "the past" in the framework of memory enables the development of a perspective on archival work that enhances the value of old records to contemporary organizations and society. The argument unfolds over the course of three sections. The first section argues that certain elements of the Australians' records continuum are more compatible with the idea of societal and organizational memory than the records life cycle, and further, that, on an archival reading, the records continuum is a more coherent temporal concept than the records life cycle. The second section draws on research from several disciplines to argue that, within the framework of memory, alluding to the past simply represents another way of talking about the present. The third section deploys ideas from the first two sections to propose ten conceptual, organizational, and technological issues that deserve attention with respect to long-term records preservation programmes.
As there are many kinds of queer histories, so too are there many types of queer archives: band ones, tender ones, bureaucratic ones. But perhaps the queerest things about archives are their silences— their telling blanks and perversely willful holes. The filmmaker Cheryl Dunye has consistently explored the affective potency that lies within historical records—and the gaps in those records—to explore how fictional archives might be necessary for queer fives in the present as well as for imagined futures.