Skip to Main Content
Artists and Archives
Many artists, designers, musicians, architects and creative professionals have relied on primary sources and archival materials in their work. Below you will find a list of artists, collaborators and collectives working with archives (materials and theory). This list is meant as an introduction and starting off point for sharing practices where intersections between art and archives meet. This list is meant to be added to and re-worked over time. If you have suggestions for books, websites or articles you would like to see in this section, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol Sawyer - The Natalie Brettschneider Archive (2017)
"For fifteen years, Vancouver-based artist Carol Sawyer (1982) has been conducting research and making artworks that enrich and expand the Natalie Brettschneider Archive. Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive presents the latest findings of this ongoing research project that deftly reconstructs the life and work of the genre-defying, fictional artist Natalie Brettschneider."
Carrie Mae Weems - From here I saw what happened and I cried (1995-1996)
"'When we’re looking at these images,' Weems said, 'we’re looking at the ways in which Anglo America—white America—saw itself in relationship to the Black subject.' Among them are distressing pictures of enslaved African Americans taken by photographer Joseph T. Zealy in 1850. Commissioned by the Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz, they were meant to support racist theories about the inferiority of Black people. Many of the sitters are naked or half naked and depicted as anthropological specimens rather than individuals. The work is bookended by images of a royal Mangbetu woman witnessing the narrative. Through her presentation, Weems asks us to question the intentions behind these pictures and their dissemination. She enlarged, cropped, and tinted the images, then placed the prints in circular mattes that suggest the camera’s lens, emphasizing the acts of framing and looking. Finally, she overlaid the images with her own texts that expose a long history of systemic injustice. 'I wanted to intervene in that by giving a voice to a subject that historically has had no voice.'" - MoMA (https://www.moma.org/collection/works/45579)
Center for the Study of Political Graphics (California)
"This website is a gateway for viewers around the world to search and browse items in CSPG's collection. At the moment it includes only a sample of CSPG’s growing collection of over 90,000 posters. Over 8,000 posters and prints are available to view online. New items are uploaded periodically, so please remember to visit this site again."
Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow (2019)
"Our project tells the story of Vancouver’s early Chinatown as chronicled through the lens of its first Chinese photographer: Yucho Chow. His work is a visual record of the many souls who passed through this historic neighbourhood: a place that welcomed and served everyone, no matter their skin colour or religion or ethnic background.
It took over eight years to gather just 200 of his photos. They were found one photo at a time – one family at a time. Most of the images had been hidden away for decades in family albums and boxes. Some were located in the files of private collectors. And a number of photos were discovered in institutional archives, although many of the images were not identified as having been created by Yucho Chow. His studio seal had long vanished from the photo. A few were found on EBay. "
Jill Magid : the proposal by Nikolaus Hirsch (Editor); Carin Kuoni (Editor)
Call Number: A759 .B36 J55 2016
Publication Date: 2016-10-16
"The eighth volume in the ongoing CSP series edited by Hirsch and Miessen, The Proposal focuses on American artist Jill Magid's The Barragan Archives. Magid's multiyear project examining the career of Pritzker Prize winning architect Luis Barragan (1902-1988) questions the forms of power, public access and copyright used to construct artistic legacy. After his death, Barragan's archive was split in two. His personal archive went to his home in Mexico, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while his professional archive was purchased in 1995 by Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum and housed at the corporation s headquarters, where it became inaccessible to the public. As Magid attempts to bring together Barragan's professional and personal archives and probes the architect s official and private selves, she engages the intersections of the psychological and the judicial, national identity and repatriation, international property rights and copyright law, authorship and ownership, the human body and the body of work. Eight additional essays round out Magrid s discussion. Contributions by Leonardo Diaz Borioli, Nikolaus Hirsch, David Kim, Cuauhtemoc Medina Gonzalez, Daniel McClean, Hesse McGraw, Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Ines Weizman"
Karen Tam - Whose Chinatown? Examining Chinatown Gazes in Art, Archives, and Collections (2021)
"Whose Chinatown? Examining Chinatown Gazes in Art, Archives, and Collections, brings together an art history of Chinatowns and their communities by historical and contemporary Canadian artists such Emily Carr, Unity Bainbridge, Yucho Chow, Fred Herzog, Paul Wong, Mary Sui Yee Wong, Morris Lum, and aiya哎呀, among others. Drawing from private collections in Vancouver and across Canada, such as the Beatrice and Raymond Jai Collection, and the Chung Collection which holds more than 25000 rare items related to Chinese Canadian history assembled over 60 years and is now housed at UBC, the show will also be augmented with public archives and collections. Complementing the artworks, artefacts, and archival materials is a robust public programming. This exhibition aims to question how narratives are constructed around the idea of Chinatown and the colonial notions that underwrite some of these relations."
A Lebanese archive / Ania Dabrowska ; from the collection of Diab Alkarssifi by Dabrowska, Ania
Call Number: B666 D33 L43
Publication Date: 2015
"A Lebanese Archive is based on a collection of archival photographs from Lebanon and the Middle East which came into the hands of Ania Dabrowska in 2010 when she was a SPACE artist-in-residence at Arlington hostel in Camden, London. It belongs to Diab Alkarssifi, a Lebanese emigre who was living there at the time. The images were taken and collected by Alkarssifi over a lifetime. It was a chance encounter that gave birth to the archiving of a huge collection, and the developmen of a new body of work by Dabrowska - much of which is published here for the first time. The collection also includes albums and archives of other photographers."
The proposal / a film by Jill Magid
Call Number: NA759 .B36 P76 2019
Publication Date: 2019
"Luis Barragan is among the world's most celebrated architects of the twentieth century. Upon his death in 1988, much of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker, hidden from the world's view. In an attempt to resurrect Barragan's life and art, boundary redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself. A high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art."
Tape Condition: Degraded by Cait McKinney and Hazel Meyer (2016)
""Tape Condition: degraded is an immersive installation and community digitization station that engages with The ArQuives’s collection of more than 3,000 VHS tapes, about one-third of which are porn. From commercially produced movies, to homemade tapes and hand-dubbed compilations, these cassettes are vital records of the archives’ role in preserving and protecting queer desires, sexual subcultures, and the pleasures of collecting. As VHS tapes age and degrade, what kinds of digital strategies might bring the histories they record into the present? How might digital interventions broaden, diversify, or queer the kinds of bodies, pleasures, and identities the archives collects?
Throughout the summer, a working digital transfer station will be situated in an immersive installation designed to evoke The ArQuives of the 1980’s—the heyday of both VHS and Canadian police censorship of queer porn. Hidden behind a “false wall” that references the archives’ attempts to protect the porn collection from police raids in the 1980s, this station will be staffed by a technician and available for community-use on select days throughout the summer. New video work by Aidan Cowling titled Landscapes of Infinities will screen on a loop within the installation."
A publication with essay, drawings by Hazel Meyer, comic by Morgan Sea, and “Dream Tape” archival interventions written by 11 queer and trans artists and activists available online and in print. Publication Designed by Cecilia BerKovic. Dream Tape Contributors: Anthea Black, Derek McCormack, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Guillermina Buzio, jes sachse, Jessica Karuhanga, Kiley May, Morgan M Page, Nica Ross, Nick Matte, Syrus Marcus Ware."
Vancouver Independent Archives Week (2018-2021)
"Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week is as a series of free public events, panels, conversations, and screenings that highlight artist-run centre archives, artists working with archives, and the intersections between contemporary art practices and social movements in Vancouver. In its 2019-2021 programming years, Recollective looks beyond Vancouver to host a series of national and international presenters and respondents to examine these issues in a range of global contexts."
Walid Raad - My neck is thinner than a hair: Engines (1996-2001)
"The Atlas Group is a fictional nonprofit research organization Raad founded in 1999. It presents itself to the public as a real collective with a mission to research and document the contemporary history of Lebanon, in particular the civil wars between 1975 and 1991. In the guise of The Atlas Group, Raad collects and fabricates photographs, videotapes, notebooks, and films and presents them in exhibitions, video screenings, and lectures. This work assembles one hundred photographs of car engines taken by amateur and professional photographers. During the civil wars, approximately 245 car bombs exploded in Lebanon, detonated by groups across the political and religious spectrums. The only part of the car that remained intact after the blast was the engine, and newspaper reports of car bombs consistently included photographs of engines and the police officers, politicians, and onlookers who gathered in the aftermath of the explosion. Raad compiled the photographs from newspaper archives in Lebanon, scanned their fronts and backs, and printed them with the date of the explosion, the name of the photographer (when known), and an English translation of the notations on the backs of the pictures. From a complex political issue he has extracted and clarified one aspect: the photo opportunity. This is just one lens through which Raad examines the ways in which the economic, political, and social history of Lebanon has been recorded, recalled, and understood." - MoMA
"XFR Collective partners with artists, activists, and community organizations to lower the barriers to preserving at-risk audiovisual media – especially unseen, unheard, or marginalized works – through digitization, screenings, educational workshops, and pop-up events. Operating through a non-hierarchical model, we work to create an inclusive environment in which to explore practical methods for media preservation, archiving, and access."
Activism and Archives
Archives maintain long held ties to human rights and social justice work. Both activism and archival practices navigate the areas of accountability, truth and memory. Archives and archivists have supported these endeavors through various means. Examples include preserving documentation showing human rights violations, facilitating access to records that hold governments/officials to account, and community organizing around oral history projects as just a few examples. Simultaneously, archives have also created barriers to activist work through enacting and operating within colonial, racist and marginalizing frameworks and practices. Below are some examples of projects at the intersections of archives and activism that actively work to support social justice and human rights advocacy and work. This list is not exhaustive and will continually be reworked and added to. If you have suggestions for books, websites or articles you would like to see in this section, please contact email@example.com.
"A collective of trained Black archivists who prioritize Black cultural heritage preservation and memory work."
Documenting the Now
"Documenting the Now develops tools and builds community practices that support the ethical collection, use, and preservation of social media content. "
"WITNESS trains activists to archive and preserve their video so that human rights abuses cannot be denied or forgotten over time."
The Texas After Violence Project
"The Texas After Violence Project is a community-based archive and documentary project cultivating deeper understandings of the impacts of state-sanctioned violence on individuals, families, and communities. Our mission is to conduct responsible, inclusive, and ethical research, and to build an archive of stories and other materials that shift narrative power to marginalized and oppressed communities and promote restorative and transformative justice. "
"Project STAND is a radical grassroots archival consortia project between colleges and universities around the country; to create a centralized digital space highlighting analog and digital collections emphasizing student activism in marginalized communities." Project Stand has published an Archiving Student Activism toolkit that can be freely downloaded.
A People's Archive of Police Violence
"A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland collects, preserves, and shares the stories, memories, and accounts of police violence as experienced or observed by Cleveland citizens. Organized in Summer 2015 by Cleveland residents and professional archivists from across the U.S., the archive hopes to provide the Cleveland community--especially survivors of police violence and the families of victims-- a safe and secure space to share any testimony, documents, or accounts that narrate or reflect on encounters or effects of police violence in their lives and communities."
Oral History Association - Guidelines for Social Justice Oral History Work
In 2019, the Oral History Association’s Council commissioned a Social Justice Task Force (SJTF) to develop a document of practice, which better serves vulnerable communities and assists practitioners seeking to center the narrator utilizing ethical and procedural standards. These guidelines will add to the organization’s Principles and Best Practices suite. This report, sample templates, and glossary serve as a framework to clarify the meaning of social-justice-centered oral history and its practice from start to finish.
firstname.lastname@example.org 604-844-3840 520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC