October 23: Epistemological Aesthetics

Walid Raad, Let’s be honest, the weather helped_12 Belgium, 1998 (fair use)

PRESENTATIONS: Aarati, Liliana, Lydia 


  • Susan Breakell, Introduction, “The Archival Impulse: Artists and Archives” Tate Modern {audio} (November 7, 2007) [play the “Archival Impulse Study Day Part 1” audio recording from the beginning through 11:30]
  • Shannon Mattern, “Archival Aesthetics,” Talk @ Princeton-Weimar Summer School on “Archive Futures,” Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany (June 18, 2015). Yes, ’tis I again. Sorry 😬 I’m asking you to read this — and to look at the slides — not because I think it’s some magnum opus, but because I used this talk to summarize a bunch of relevant texts that, given the focus of our course, might not be worth reading in their entirety (yet if you’re inspired by the tiny excerpts or references you encounter here, you’re welcome to read the source texts more closely; you’ll find many links below in the Supplemental Readings). I’ve also integrated lots of examples of artists and artworks.
    • Recommended: Hal Foster, “An Archival Impulse,” October 110 (Fall 2004): 3-22. This is one of the canonical “archival aesthetics” art-theory texts Breakell and I reference in our talks.
  • Siegfried Zielinski, “AnArchaeology for AnArchives” trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 2:1 (2015): 116-25.
  • Check out Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology – especially Antoni Muntadas’s The File Room.

Optional: Pick a couple other archivally-aligned artists, and explore their work:

Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue (fair use)


Tulay Atak, “Amie Siegel Uses Film and Photography to Explore Architecture and Fetishization,” Architect’s Newspaper (June 27, 2016); Christian Berger and Jessica Santone, Special Issue on “Documentation as Art Practice in the 1960s,” Visual Resources: An International Journal on Images and Their Uses 32:3-4 (2016); Sophie Berrebi, The Shape of Evidence: Contemporary Art and the Document (Amsterdam: Valiz Press, 2015); Sue Breakell, “Perspectives: Negotiating the ArchiveTate Papers (Spring 2008); Giuliana Bruno, “Storage Space,” e-flux architecture (November 16, 2016); Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, “Gerhard Richter’s ‘Atlas’: The Anomic Archive” October 88 (Spring 1999): 117-45; Kathy Michelle Carbone, “Artists and Records: Moving History and Memory” Archives and Records 38:1 (2017); Paul Clarke, Simon Jones, Nick Kaye, and Johanna Linsley, eds., Artists in the Archive: Creative and Curatorial Engagements with Documents of Art and Performance (Routledge 2018); Anthony Downey, Ed., Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015); Chad Elias, “The Libidinal Archive: A Conversation with Akram Zaatari,” Tate Papers 19 (2013); Okwui Enwezor, Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (Steidl/ICP, 2008); Gabriella Giannachi, Archive Everything: Mapping the Everyday (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016) [terrible book, good examples]; *Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue (2013); David Joselit, “On Aggregators,” October 146 (Fall 2013): 3-18; Guy Mannes-Abbott, “This Is Tomorrow: On Emily Jacir’s Art of Assembling Radically Generative Archives,” in Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East, ed. Anthony Downey (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2015): 109-27; National Archives of Australia, Visible Archive Series Browser; Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, “Innovative Forms of Archives” Series, e-flux; Simone Ostoff, Performing the Archive: The Transformation of the Archive in Contemporary Art From Repository of Documents to Art Medium (New York: Atropos Press, 2009) [good examples, but not a good book]; Ingrid Schaffner & Matthias Winzen, eds., Deep Storage: Collecting, Storing, and Archiving in Art (New York: Prestel, 1998); Steel Stillman, “In the Studio: Amie Siegel,” Art in America (November 2, 2015); Sven Spieker, “1970-2000: Archive, Database, Photography” In The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2009): 130-171; Domietta Torlasco, The Heretical Archive: Digital Memory at the End of Film (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013) [Monica Bonvicini, Pierre Huyghe, Agnès Varda, Marco Poloni, Chris Marker]; Emily Wroczynski, “Walid Raad and the Atlas Group” Third Text 25:6 (November 2011): 763-773; Mabel O. Wilson, “Collecting Publics: The Spatial Politics of Dorchester Projects” in Entry Points, The Vera List Center Field Guide on Art and Social Justice, Vol. 1, ed. Carin Kuoni and Chelsea Haines (New York: Vera List Center, 2015): 230-9.

COLLECTION INTERFACES: Aarhus Urban Mediaspace, “The Library of the Future”; “Dynamic Order” Sitterwerk Art Library, which makes use of RFID technology, in St. Gallen, Switzerland [+ video], and see AstromZimmer’s dynamic library workbenches [+ video]; Jeff Goldenson’s Rewrite the Library project at Olin College; Good, Form & Spectacle, “What’s In the Library?” + “New Work: Wellcome Library Alpha”; Harvard Library Innovation Lab, Harvard’s Library Test Kitchen; NYPL Labs’ work; Elissa Lee’s work with the UTS Library; Re-Envisioning Branch Libraries design study; Arian Roth and Marina Schütz, Eds., The Dynamic Library: Organizing Knowledge at the Sitterwerk – Precedents and Possibilities (Chicago: Soberscove Press, 2015); Rosten Woo’s work on Haystacks (and his epic “Can I help you find something?” project blog); Mitchell Whitelaw, “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9:1 (2015). Mitchell Whitelaw’s work.

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