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UAL Research Online

Oral history, site-specificity and the indexical

Horton, Ian and Furnee, Bettina (2010) Oral history, site-specificity and the indexical. In: Oral History in Art, Craft and Design: the Oral History Society Annual Conference, 02 - 03 July 2010, V&A Museum, London, UK. (Unpublished)

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Horton, Ian and Furnee, Bettina

This paper examines the use of oral history in text-based site-specific public art practice. It highlights the features these two activities share and examines potential tensions when such artworks use oral history records as a key component in the final outcome. These issues are examined with direct reference to two projects, “Witness” and “Prisoner of War”, by the artist Bettina Furnee. Oral histories, in aiming to record and archive people’s accounts of past events, must make reference to time and place. They are a record in the present time and place of events that move fluidly across both time and place through the act of recounting. It is argued that these features are also evident in site-specific art practices which similarly reference the history of place while being firmly located in the present moment of creation and/or reception. Whilst oral history and site-specific public art share the features outlined above, the artworks examined in this paper highlight issues within the use of oral history in such practice. Oral histories can most directly be presented in an art context aurally. If they are to take physical or material form then the issue of editing becomes central to the practice unless a printed transcript is presented in full. This problem is explored in relation to Rosalind Krauss’ notion of the indexical, used in analysing postmodern artistic practices, and linked to the idea that the textual fragment can substitute for the archive itself.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

Oral history has become a significant methodology for understanding the contexts, objects, and meanings of art and design. It has also been a catalyst for creative work. This international conference will bring together the global community of those working with oral history in the diverse field of the arts. This groundbreaking two-day conference will feature presentations from creative practitioners, academics, archivists, oral historians, community arts projects as well as museum professionals. The focus will be on three key themes: History, Practice, and Interpretation. Keynote speakers include the artists David Toop and Michael McMillan.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: art history practice
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 3 July 2010
Funders: CCW Graduate School, UAL, National Lifestories at the British Library, University of the West of England, Bristol
Related Websites: http://www.oralhistory.org.uk/conferences/confdocs/abstracts_2010.pdf, http://www.oralhistory.org.uk/conferences/2010.php
Related Websites:
Event Location: V&A Museum, London, UK
Projects or Series: Research Outputs Review (April 2010 - April 2011)
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2011 14:46
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2011 14:46
Item ID: 4401
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/4401

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