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Art, work, and archives: performativity and the techniques of production

Art, work, and archives: performativity and the techniques of production
Art, work, and archives: performativity and the techniques of production
Work that takes place inside archives and work that is designated as art are often perceived as conceptually distinct practices, yet it is possible for the two to share common techniques and methodologies. A performative approach can be taken to the production of artworks that is comparable to that of the archive in terms of following a predetermined structure and controlled methodology, and with direct links to archival thinking. I will demonstrate how visual practice can work with, and in consideration of, prescribed standards and open up theoretical debate that is pertinent to archives yet lies outside of conventional archive or art theory. Whilst not wanting to initiate a discourse on specific artworks of my own in this limited space, there will be a detailed discussion as to how the associations between art, work, and archives have become central to my own practice and research. I will discuss how my appropriation of archival techniques of image description results in a “writing and reading” of the image that contests traditional art historical models of image analysis and appears radical when placed alongside them, if one is to understand “radical” as a departure from the norm. Such work does not constitute radical thinking in terms of the archive but becomes radicalized by way of its passage into the milieu of art research, where traditional hermeneutical analysis generally persists. It is a practice that does not oppose but instead utilizes and builds upon archival standards, and aspects of archival thinking permeate the various practices of artists cited in this essay, notably through the application of performative working methods that position their work within an established genre of indexing and categorization. It is also important to note that these works make space for complex and abstract thinking
???around images and image sets, and around language itself, whilst still maintaining the structural discourse of the archive at some level. Although archive professionals may not be the expected audience for the practices discussed here, there may be an opportunity for the reverse flow of “work experience”: an unpicking of the methods and thinking of art research could be useful and constructive when taken back into the archive. The examples here, including my own, traverse material culture, cultural theory, performativity, and media archaeology—a thematic that is, after all, as pertinent to archives as it is to art.
2166-1189
1-14
Birkin, Jane
30ada6e1-9603-4a9c-9159-8297758817fe
Birkin, Jane
30ada6e1-9603-4a9c-9159-8297758817fe

Birkin, Jane (2015) Art, work, and archives: performativity and the techniques of production. Archive Journal, 5, part Archives Remixed, Autumn Issue, 1-14.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Work that takes place inside archives and work that is designated as art are often perceived as conceptually distinct practices, yet it is possible for the two to share common techniques and methodologies. A performative approach can be taken to the production of artworks that is comparable to that of the archive in terms of following a predetermined structure and controlled methodology, and with direct links to archival thinking. I will demonstrate how visual practice can work with, and in consideration of, prescribed standards and open up theoretical debate that is pertinent to archives yet lies outside of conventional archive or art theory. Whilst not wanting to initiate a discourse on specific artworks of my own in this limited space, there will be a detailed discussion as to how the associations between art, work, and archives have become central to my own practice and research. I will discuss how my appropriation of archival techniques of image description results in a “writing and reading” of the image that contests traditional art historical models of image analysis and appears radical when placed alongside them, if one is to understand “radical” as a departure from the norm. Such work does not constitute radical thinking in terms of the archive but becomes radicalized by way of its passage into the milieu of art research, where traditional hermeneutical analysis generally persists. It is a practice that does not oppose but instead utilizes and builds upon archival standards, and aspects of archival thinking permeate the various practices of artists cited in this essay, notably through the application of performative working methods that position their work within an established genre of indexing and categorization. It is also important to note that these works make space for complex and abstract thinking
???around images and image sets, and around language itself, whilst still maintaining the structural discourse of the archive at some level. Although archive professionals may not be the expected audience for the practices discussed here, there may be an opportunity for the reverse flow of “work experience”: an unpicking of the methods and thinking of art research could be useful and constructive when taken back into the archive. The examples here, including my own, traverse material culture, cultural theory, performativity, and media archaeology—a thematic that is, after all, as pertinent to archives as it is to art.

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Published date: November 2015
Organisations: Winchester School of Art

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Local EPrints ID: 398703
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/398703
ISSN: 2166-1189
PURE UUID: aceb55f6-1ad9-4a1a-81e6-9cd2f8bded06
ORCID for Jane Birkin: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6025-9300

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Date deposited: 01 Aug 2016 12:42
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:58

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Author: Jane Birkin ORCID iD

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