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Activating the Archive: Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives

Event organized by Arnolfini

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Activating the Archive:
Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives

Saturday 5th May 2018
11am - 6pm (Doors open at 10.30 am) / £20 - £25
Early Bird Tickets £20 until 6th of April

IC Visual Lab warmly invites you to its upcoming symposium, ACTIVATING THE ARCHIVE: Contemporary Uses of Visual Archives, taking place at the Arnolfini on the 5th of May. This one-day symposium explores the many ways archives are activated within the arts through a series of talks with international artists, curators, and researchers.

The possibilities of visual archives sit at the forefront of this event, which is reflected in the work by the invited speakers; Francesca Seravalle, Maja Daniels, Charbel Saad, Vicki Bennett, Thomas Sauvin, and Amak Mahmoodian. All of whom are reinterpreting archival material, building new archives, or facilitating the use of existing archives within their respective practices. This event is supported by the Arts Council of England and in collaboration with Arnolfini.

Read below for more information on the artists involved:

Thomas Sauvin - Beijing Silvermine

Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 500,000 negatives salvaged over the last seven years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by the French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decades following the Cultural Revolution. This coherent and unceasingly evolving archive allows us to apprehend negatives in different ways. It constitutes a visual platform for cross-cultural interactions, while impacting on our collective memory of the recent past. http://www.beijingsilvermine.com/

Vicki Bennett - Processing The Product

A talk by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) reflecting upon 25+ years of creating audiovisual media, sharing information and insights on creating large scale works using preexisting material. Since 1991 Vicki Bennett has been making CDs, radio, and A/V multimedia under the name People Like Us. By animating and recontextualising found footage collages Vicki gives an equally witty and dark view of popular culture with a surrealistic edge. People Like Us broadcasts an ongoing experimental arts radio and podcast show on WFMU, called “DO or DIY”, which, since it began in 2003, has had over a million “listen again” downloads. http://www.peoplelikeus.org/

Francesca Seravalle - Everything has its first time

In 2013, during some ‘archaeological’ research to discover more information about the first photo uploaded to the internet, Francesca Seravalle realized that there were thousands of First Photos that reveal the beauty of the discovery and have the power to change our society. “I started to chase many first photos (from the 1820s to the present day) following four tracks: photographic inventions, scientific and technological discoveries, historical landmarks, and first seen visions of nature.” www.thefirstphotos.tumblr.com

Maja Daniels - Elf Dalia

In 2012 Maja Daniels, photographer and sociologist began working in the Swedish region of Älvdalen inspired by the current generational shift, where negotiations and tensions between modern lifestyles and tradition - including the preservation of a strong cultural identity imbued with mysticism - represent an important contemporary struggle. Through making her own photographs of the region, and creatively appropriating parts of the archive of photographer Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938) within her work the community’s unique and mysterious eccentricity is reinforced. Steeped in both reality and myth, past and present, an imaginary tale influenced by language, mystery and local history quietly reveals itself through the resilience of the subjects, the strangeness of the events and the beauty of the land. http://majadaniels.com/

Amak Mahmoodian - NeghaB

Not a long time passed from the invention of photography in Europe before photography arrived in Iran. According to Tahmasbooor (Photographer Naserod_din shah, 2002) as early as 1844 (1260 in the Iranian calendar) an Iranian woman, for the first time, stood as the subject for a photographer. The portrait was made by the Qajar king Naserod-din shah, who took up photography as a result of being given the gift of a camera from Queen Victoria. In 2004, I visited the Golestan museum and worked on my archival research for two years. Golestan Archives are located in central Tehran, which was once a home for Qajar women, and the king’s wives, Harem women. I looked at the archival photographs from the Qajar period and chose a number of photographs, which I used as masks. I started taking photographs of women around me, whom I see every day. In some photos there were so many masks on a face that I forget the real face. The woman hiding behind the mask of the past has many of the past attributes that I can see and feel. Women were the same women – does it make a difference what the faces look like? Women today have concealed their faces behind masks of the past, because similar restrictions have remained in place. The mask can hide the woman’s face but it can not hide the ‘truth’ which is behind the mask. http://www.amakmahmoodian.co.uk

Charbel Saad - Arab Image Foundation

Charbel Saad is the head of digital collections at the Arab Image Foundation. Established in Beirut in 1997, the Foundation holds a collection of more than 600,000 photographs from the mid-19th century to the present day. The Foundation has produced fifteen exhibitions and eight publications in partnership with international museums, galleries and cultural institutions. The collection has also provided an invaluable resource for artists’ projects, curatorial initiatives and academic research. The contents of the AIF’s collection reflect both the general preservation mandate of the foundation and the specific research interests of its members. The artists, writers, filmmakers and historians affiliated with the AIF have, to date, initiated research projects in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal. The result is a dynamic and at times idiosyncratic collection that does not merely illustrate the history of photography in the region but rather situates a wealth of different photographic practices in a complex field of social, economic, political and cultural factors. http://www.fai.org.lb/home.aspx

Kensuke Koike - Today’s curiosity

Koike’s collage works are known for his playfulness and humorous approaches to archival material. During this symposium, Koike’s video-art pieces from his series Today’s curiosity will be screened throughout the day.

This event is organised by IC-Visual Lab with the support of the Arts Council of England and in collaboration with Arnolfini.