The Impact of the Archive

9 December 2021, 3:00:00 am

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Session Convenors

Dr Minerva Inwald, Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art, UNSW
Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Session Moderators

Dr Minerva Inwald, Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art, UNSW
Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Session Speakers

Lisa Catt, Curator, Contemporary International Art, AGNSW and Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Lauren Booker, Research Fellow, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS
Dr Minerva Inwald, Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art, UNSW

How do archival collections shape the trajectories of art historical research and impact curatorial practices? Drawing on recent projects that have used archival materials to interrogate the power structures shaping participation in the art world, this session will bring together librarians, archivists, art curators and art historians to reflect on the potential of archival collections to both reinforce and disrupt dominant art historical narratives. Proposing directions for the future, this session will discuss how Australian cultural institutions might acquire and build archival collections that will support the diversification of art historical research and foster curatorial innovation.

PAPER #1
Get Archived: The Archive in the Art Museum

PRESENTER
Lisa Catt, Curator, Contemporary International Art, AGNSW and Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Over the summer of 2020-2021 the Art Gallery of New South Wales presented an exhibition of Australian artist, Pat Larter (1936-1996) that was primarily drawn from the Gallery's National Art Archive. Pat Larter: Get Arted demonstrated a significant shift in how archival material is positioned, presented and interpreted at the Gallery. Typically used in exhibitions in ‘support’ of the collection, this was the first consideration of the archive as the collection – from which an exhibition could be entirely conceived and curated. Through a discussion of Pat Larter: Get Arted, this paper will explore how archives can expand the museum model to more fully address performative, time-based and/or community-based practice. How might the archive offer ways for an art museum to overcome perpetually privileging art histories that are based on material authenticity and permanency over those that are based upon ephemerality and networks of collaboration? This paper will also ask how archival and curatorial practices can inform one another and come together to put forward a new model of ‘collecting’ works of a performative nature.

PAPER #2
Self-Determination in the Archive – A Critical Archiving Perspective

PRESENTER
Lauren Booker, Research Fellow, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS

As First Nations GLAM workers, scholars, artists, and activists continue to raise awareness of the complicity of collecting institutions in the Australian colonial project, what was once an undisturbed site of privilege and fictional neutrality is now being prised open and laid out for questioning. The archives sector, and our major collecting institutions more broadly, have multiple national and international mandates, such as the Tandanya Declaration, ICIP rights, IAC’s Right of Reply Statement and UNDRIP, directing process and practice towards self-determination and data sovereignty for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, however most actualisation of these mandates remains to be seen. This paper will provide a critical perspective on current key areas of contention and discussion in the archives sector, including the right to know, accessibility, ownership and institutional transparency. Lauren will draw on her experiences working across the library, archive and museum sectors to reflect on the need for reorientation of archival practice, and the impact of the important work currently being undertaken across the sector.

PAPER #3
Archiving the Visual and Material Culture of China’s Cultural Revolution

PRESENTER
Dr Minerva Inwald, Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art, UNSW

Sources claim that during China’s Cultural Revolution, Liu Chunhua’s oil painting Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan (1967)—identified by the Chinese Communist Party as an exemplar of socialist artmaking—was reproduced 900 million times. While scholars have analyzed the iconography of this artwork, little attention has been devoted to documenting how this image circulated on objects to become a central feature of the visual and material culture of the Cultural Revolution. The digital humanities project Mao in Multiple documents the circulation of Liu Chunhua’s painting by using the website Kongfz.com—a mainland Chinese online market for secondhand books and ephemera—as an archive of visual and material culture. Assembling listings from the website into a database of records, the project explores how Liu Chunhua’s painting has been reinterpreted and reconstituted as badges, curtains, tapestries, plates, statuettes and lantern slides. Introducing the Mao in Multiple project, this paper will reflect on questions including: what constitutes the art historical ‘archive’ in the digital age? How can online data be used to create archives exploring visual and material culture? How can collection management methodologies be applied to give structure and permanency to the huge volume of constantly changing information on websites like Kongfz.com?

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Biographies

Dr Minerva Inwald, Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art, UNSW

Minerva Inwald is Judith Neilson Post-Doctoral Fellow in Contemporary Art at UNSW, Sydney.


Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Claire Eggleston is Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.


Lisa Catt, Curator, Contemporary International Art, AGNSW and Claire Eggleston, Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Lisa Catt is Curator, Contemporary International Art, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Claire Eggleston is Senior Librarian, Research and Archives, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.


Lauren Booker, Research Fellow, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, UTS

Lauren Booker is a Research Fellow at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS, Sydney.