Random Archive (20/05/2017- 12/08/2017)


Curated by Susan lord and Dr
. Hannah Allan, the Random Archive exhibition features work of national and international Language Artists which is part of Bury Art Museum’s unique Text Art Archive. Random Archive attempts to push boundaries by questioning how an archive can be viewed, accessed and explored. This is a unique opportunity for visitors to get up close in a gallery setting to a collection which is usually kept in store, the public will be encouraged to interact with it and explore it afresh.
Working with Dr. Panayiota Vassilopoulou, the Philosopher in Residence, and artist Rachel Defay-Liautard the exhibition takes a look at new ways of thinking about what an archive could be in the future.
The exhibition is made up of an Archive Maze, a hands on Bibliomancy section, a Digital Archive and a Reading Room which will involve invited artists and writers and will evovle over the course of the exhibition.
As you make your way through the Archive Maze you will encounter objects displayed in archive vitrines, whilst many archives do not collect finished works the Text Art Archive breaks down these barriers.
Bibliomancy has been used for generations as an aid to tell the future; traditionally, sacred books were employed (especially specific words and verses) for ‘magical medicine’, for removing negative entities, or for divination, to give answers about the future. In the Bibliomancy section poems and text from the Text Art Archive are presented in place of sacred books.
The Digital Archive tests three different approaches to the display of documents that are not physically present and the opportunities that this opens up both for the work and audiences. They are collected as: speech; narrative objects; language and syntax. Each is intended as a starting point, exemplifying how archival interaction might be opened up, democratised and disrupted by the audience through these evolving digital methods.
The Reading Room offers visitors a further opportunity to interact with the materials held by the archive and connected practitioners. This space also reflects the research of the curatorial team and their dialogue with artists and writers. Systems and order are created through elements contained within the texts, rather than the usual strict categorisation of the library or archive. The Reading Room will evolve throughout the show with input from invited writers and artists.
The groupings of artworks on the walls in the exhibition were arrived at by a lateral thinking strategy called ‘Connecting the Unconnected’, this technique was employed to arrive at the random nature of the selection and grouping of the artworks. The technique enabled me to force relationships between random words and artworks in order to come up with random and novel combinations in the process of grouping them.

Pavé Numérique – Rachel Defay-Liautard
In 2007, Rachel started ‘maintenants, synapse’: an ongoing collecting process that samples cultural goods in accordance with a rhyming system of concepts. These samples are randomly set in a giant grid hidden online, along with specially-designed “patches”. One point of view on ‘maintenants, synapse’ will be translated into an ephemeral post-digital installation called ‘Pavé Numérique’.

Tricking the Impossible (24/4 /2017 -2 5/8/2017)

This exhibition is a collaborative project and runs parallel to The RANDOM Archive exhibition at Bury Art Museum. Tricking the Impossible examines the close, collaborative relationship between the author Penny Rimbaud (co-founder of the highly influential punk rock collective Crass) and typesetter and book designer Christian Brett. The exhibition draws on extensive archive material from the Bracketpress archive held at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. Brett’s collaborations with Rimbaud employ many expressive and conceptual typographic tricks, creating visually exciting designs for some very challenging texts. Along with published material (novels, essays, poetry and music) the exhibition also includes working designs for as yet unpublished works.

Bracketpress is an independent radical publisher of books, pamphlets and limited edition prints co-founded by Christian Brett & Alice Smith.



Random Archive has been funded by Arts Council England
Running alongside the exhibition are a series of workshops and a symposium funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. These explore how to care for community archives, how to establish a DIY/Feminist archive, how to catalogue an LGBTQ archive and how to create a digital archive.