Art historian Antony Hudek chaired the talk which featured three contemporary artists and writers as well as the Bluecoat director, Brayn Biggs.
Hudek framed the opening discussion around the tension between archive as a site and archive as substance.
Within the notion of spatial, Hudek was also keen for the paths of genealogies to be considered as archive spaces.
Hudek pointed out that there’s been a shift in rhetoric around arts engagement with the archives; there used to be an emphasis on the trace, and what the archive revealed – in other words it was about disclosure. Now rhetoric is based on present activation and the current, present surface of the archive. And this activity is not nescessarily to do with us – archives are active without us.
Another interesting point that came up was that, for archives to remain active in cultural experience, to become the site of engagement they have to be open to foreigness, in other words, archives exists through being misinterpreted. They function best when beingappropriated by someone/something other to it.
The thing about archives on display is that you get a 1960s video of Yoko Ono next to a photo of people from the 60s in funny clothes drinking tea.