Archives Lost, Found, Re-assembled
Professor Charlotte Townsend-Gault's keynote will consider two very different Canadian archives.
The first archive is a repository of the evanescent, assembled during the 1968-1973 heyday of international conceptual art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
The second is the print archive of Northwest Coast Indigenous art, perverse in being a textual repository, a historiography, of oral cultures.
One example is relatively trivial in this comparison. Historical repression and the intentional suppression of memory, has had tragic and persistent consequences for Canada's Indigenous populations and for the Canadian state.
However these archives can be productively juxtaposed being simultaneously incidental to their subjects in significant ways, and indispensible to recovery, re-enactment, and re-invention.
Her work with a group of artists and scholars on the ways in which Native cultures have been recorded in the settler colony of British Columbia to compile ‘Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas’ (2013) invoked some of the intangibles of the ‘conceptual’ archive: questions of trace, of shared memory, performance histories and the social relations of art’s reception.