ARCHIVES 2015 has ended
Tuesday, August 18 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Research Forum Session 8: Archival Challenges and Progress - Voices from Every Angle: An Experiment in Documenting Contemporary Art

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Many works of contemporary art resist documentation, operating through performance and ephemera. The standard strategy for creating a record of these works is to snap a few photographs, which generates important documentation, but radically flattens and obscures many vital dimensions of the artwork, including the affective responses of the audience, temporal and spatial components, and the artist's own intentions. In collaboration with two artists in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, I have experimented with a program to more fully document performance and ephemeral art. This strategy employs an ethnographic method, wherein I observe how individuals participate in the event, using interviews to elicit a narrative of the viewers' affective, temporal, and spatial experiences. In the first phase, I conduct an interview with the artist, in which the artist discusses the creative processes behind the artwork, and all of the components required for exhibition. In the second phase, I embed myself at the art exhibition, and conduct interviews with exhibition attendees, recording these conversations to create a multi-perspective archive of the event. This body of recorded dialog provides a more complete resource for art historians and other individuals seeking a record of the artwork. In my presentation, I will discuss two attempts to implement this program, discussing what worked and what could be improved. I will especially focus on the methodology of this experiment, which draws upon practices of both contemporary art conservation and archival preservation. As museums and archives increasingly care for complex digital, ephemeral, and otherwise vulnerable objects, dialog and exchange between these professional fields can be productive of innovative practices addressing difficult problems. I hope this experiment can suggest possible such exchange and collaboration.

About the Author:

Colin Post is currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he is working on a dual degree masters program in Art History and Library Science. Colin is also a fellow in the IMLS funded Learning from Artists' Archives project, which investigates practical and innovative strategies for studio artists to build and sustain personal archives. Before moving to North Carolina,

Colin received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Montana and his BA in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.


Tuesday August 18, 2015 3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT
Room 26A Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

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