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Tangential and awry archive stories

Melvin, Joanna (2007) Tangential and awry archive stories. In: The Archive, The Event and its Architecture. The Wordsworth Trust, pp. 46-57. ISBN 978 1 90525620 4
Creators:Melvin, Joanna

In 2007 I was invited by Lucy Gunning to write a chapter in the book ‘The Archive, The Event and its Architecture’. Previous discussions with Gunning addressed theoretical concerns surrounding the archive, its relevance in contemporary art practice as a private system and in the public domain. Our key concern was how to accommodate discrepancy between the private and public within the archive without excluding the personal.

I recorded some of these occasions in the essay, ‘Tangential and Awry Archive Stories.’ Where I self-consciously wove an anecdotal account of a hill walk (with Gunning) round Grasmere into the text. The activity of walking made direct links between artists’ and philosophers’ practice of walking and thinking. As a reflexive act, walking is passing through the landscape and might be seen in relation to my own encounter ‘passing through’ the archive. In my reading of the archive the anecdote informs the documented event, casting new light on situations and demonstrating the provisional nature of history as fluid and tangible. My walk with Gunning exemplifies this.

Prior to writing the chapter Gunning and I had extensive discussions on questions arising from the phenomenal archive. ‘The phenomenal archive’ is a term I use to describe the retrieval of information that is unaccounted for or arises from questions in the archive.

In this work I contribute to the theoretical re assessment of the archive’s status as a material body - publicly housed in the institutional domain. Unlike Gavin Butt’s emphasis on gossip as the epistemological source in the archive (Between You and Me, Duke University Press, 2005) my concern is through its interlocution to address the underlying question which surfaces: Whose voice is the voice we hear? Or can we hear polyphony?

Type of Research:Book Section
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:RAE2008 UoA63
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company:The Wordsworth Trust
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
ID Code:794
Deposited On:07 Dec 2009 12:56
Last Modified:22 Oct 2013 16:38
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