Archival Interventions


What does it mean?

A collection, often historical however can be related to any subject matter, for example, when I was in school we learnt about jack the ripper, we went on a trip to London to visit the Archive dedicated to him. It was a collection of all the evidence against him, documentation of what he did, everything down to the shoes the policemen wore when looking for him. Is a sketchbook an Archive? It contains everything you have used or looked at, all your thoughts and processes when it come to a project. To my understanding this is what it is.

An archival object could be something in relation to an Archive for example, if there was an Archive of stationary, every letter written with the pen would be an Archival object.

Gerhard Richter started collecting photographs in the 60’s he eventually created a collage of them later in life and there came the project he called Atlas. If one of the most respected artists of our time can essentially create a photo album and call it an archive, does that mean my bedroom walls are an archive? Is an archive just a record of time and subject matter?


An Archive of a person is just objects and memorabilia base around a person’s life. It may include thought and feelings towards that person, objects they used and were maybe famous for but really it’s just a record of items that tell a story.


I’ve been to Liverpool to visit the millions of, what I now know are Beatles Archives, they exist in shops, pubs, clubs but are all just museums. They can be displayed in various ways and often the public can interact with the objects and get involved, the artists responsible are trying to provoke a reaction, to observe how they behave and hopefully get an insight into how an archive makes them feel.

  1. What does Hal Foster say archival artists do? What kinds of examples does he refer to? (pp.3-4)

I think what he is trying to say is that Archival artist are attempting to get people to think and form an opinion by “probing” them with objects within art.

  1. Provide a short summary of Foster’s description and analysis of Thomas Hirschorn’s work – find quotations that help you with this summary (pp. 6-11)

Forster states that he ‘seeks to ‘distribute ideas’ he had many unconventional ways of working and getting audiences engaged, weather that be by them physically doing so or a more formal approach. The main goal was to connecting people with objects, thoughts and memories.

  1. Provide a short summary of Foster’s description and analysis of Tacita Dean’s approach to archival material – provide quotations that describe this approach (pp.11-16)

Tacita approach is more about story telling from an object, short films, photographs all linked with a narrative. Her stories are always open ended provoking the audience to decide for themselves.

  1. How does Sam Durant use objects of material culture as part of his archival art practice? – select quotations/examples that account for this practice (pp.17-21)

He uses confusing imagery in installations in order to force people to discuss and therefore form an opinion. Using cultural objects and defaces them or changes them in some way.


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