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Art as Archive: Archive as Art & The Imagined Archive

Samantha Bertoldi reperformance of artwork by David Rosetzky
15th Prato CIRN Community Informatics Research Network Conference

Taking its theme as Art as Archive: Archive as Art & The Imagined Archive, the 15th CIRN Prato Conference proved fertile ground for exploring a range of ideas related to archival literacy. A key element was the exhibition and associated paracuratorial programme in which the boundaries of contemporary art and archival practice were tested through practice. Co-curated by Vince Dziekan and Antonina Lewis, the exhibition staged at the Monash University Prato Centre presented two bodies of work: The Imagined Archive and the Monash/Prato Visual Artists Residency Archive. The Imagined Archive represented creative work produced by people whose childhood experiences involve time lived in out-of-home care, including an exemplary case study of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Projects. The conference was also used to initiate a new research initiative directed at designing a living archive that will enable leading Australian contemporary artists to represent their experience of cultural immersion through the artist-in-residence programme hosted in Prato since 2010. Through a combination of exhibition and interactive workshop selected works by recent residency artists were reactivated, while a special panel discussion was convened on the exploratory theme of “dust nostalgia”. Realized through collaboration with the Centro Luigi Pecci –one of the leading contemporary art institutions in Italy, these discursive activities were catalysed by invited artists, curators, museum professionals and digital cultural heritage researchers. Surveying approaches to archives and archival content by artists working in fields such as dance, painting, photography, theatre and poetry, keynote speakers, Kathy Carbone and Amalia Sabiescu dealt with a range of themes, emphasising the ways in which “the interplay between art and archive becomes a performative space of past into present”, facilitating new forms of cultural production while acting to rebalance power relations embedded in archives. Overall, CIRN2017 was a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the process of creating art through critical interaction with archival traces of the past, facilitating a reflection on the nature and meaning of archives, the empowerment of individuals and communities, and future possibilities. We look forward to building on these themes at CIRN 2018.

Foster & Berean