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International cultural community to join UAL conference on archives in art

Written by Cat Cooper
Published date 14 June 2019

A diverse global cultural community will join University of the Arts London to debate the extended meanings of the archive as artistic practice at UAL’s Archives and Embodiment Conference, July 4 and 5 at Central Saint Martins.

Leading debates on a wide range of themes including political and cultural ownership, decolonisation and artists' responses to wartime and reconciliation, the conference will also explore the relationship between artists and practices that embody the meaning of archives through performance, replication and re-enactment.

Archives and Embodiment will be introduced by UAL’s Dean of Research, Professor Oriana Baddeley and UAL’s Director of Library and Student Support Services, Pat Christie, with an opening keynote from Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University in the United States. Delegates will hear from internationally renowned academics, curators and artists from UAL and beyond.

UAL Dean of Research, Professor Oriana Baddeley: 

We are pleased to be able to share an introduction to UAL’s archives and collections and to lead a set of debates to explore the various distinctive dimensions of archives in the arts and their role in our culture and social progress.

UAL Director of Library and Student Support Services, Pat Christie:

This conference will include lectures, panel discussions, film viewings, exhibitions and a live performance that we hope will not only provoke theoretical debates but also inspire creative responses to the important issues we will be exploring during these two days.

Bringing together artists and designers, archivists, curators, cultural leaders, academics and students interested in the role of the archive in the creation, interpretation and preservation of culture, the conference follows on from the 2016 international conference Im/Material: Encounters within the Creative Arts Archive, held at UAL’s Chelsea College of Arts.

External speakers include Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University | Simone Osthoff, Professor of Art and Critical Studies at Pennsylvania State University | Dr Joanne Anderson, Lecturer in Art History at The Warburg Institute | Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute and Professor of Cultural History in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study | Amanda Dunsmore, Artist and Lecturer, Limerick School of Art & Design, LIT Ireland | Melanie Keen, Director of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) | June Givanni, Film Curator of the Pan African Cinema Archive | James Stevens, founder member of SPC, MayDay Rooms | Larry Achiampong, Artist | Oliver Chanarin of Broomberg & Chanarin, Artists and Professors of Photography.


The programme includes:

‘Framing and Re-framing the Archive’, chaired by Jess Crilly, Associate Director of Library Services at UAL. This session will explore how personal and institutional collecting can construct and deconstruct narratives. The speakers will be Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton from UAL, Melanie Keen, Director of Iniva and June Givanni, Curator of the Pan African Cinema Archive. As part of this session Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton will talk about the national audit of work by black artists in UK public art collections which she led on behalf of the Black Artists & Modernism Project undertaken by UAL and Middlesex University.

‘Playing Archives’ chaired by UAL’s MA Curating and Collections Course Leader Dr. David Dibosa, will feature artist Larry Achiampong and ‘Notes from a Relic Traveller’, referencing his multi-disciplinary project using performance, audio, moving image and prose; and artist and UAL academic susan pui san lok, whose talk will touch on several projects with archives, including NEWS/REEL (2005), Faster, Higher (2008), and her recent exhibition A COVEN A GROVE A STAND (2019), exploring voice, place and collective memory.

‘Archives and Re-Enactment’ chaired by Bill Sherman of the Warburg Institute will see Joanne Anderson, Warburg Institute sharing insights from the project ‘A Vision for Europe: Exhibitions, Exiles and their Material Archive and UAL’s Mick Finch on the collaboration between Central Saint Martins, UAL and the Warburg Institute.

Archives and the History of the Mazi’ chaired by Judy Willcocks, Head of Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection at UAL will include contributions from Anthony Davies and Elizabeth Wright from UAL, and James Stevens from the MayDay Rooms. They will consider the development of wireless and offline communication technologies (such as Mazi) as a means of activating histories/archives and self-representation to support the rights of those typically excluded from mainstream institutional representation, referring to a recent project undertaken in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

‘Archives Embodying Conflict’ chaired by Sarah Mahurter, University Archives and Special Collections Centre Manager at UAL will include reflections from ‘The Pardoners’ Tale’, Professor Pratap Rughani’s documentary on truth and reconciliation in South Africa and Australia based on the experience of filming with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and artist and academic Amanda Dunsmore discussing artworks from Keeper, in particular The Agreement Portraits relating to the Northern Ireland peace talks.

‘Responses to an Alternative Comic Book Archive’ chaired by Nina Mickwitz, UAL will feature Ian Horton, UAL: Into/Out of the Box’ Archiving and Displaying Mini-Comics from the Les Coleman Collection; and John Miers, Kingston University, presenting on Control and Constraint in Graphic Illness Narratives.

UAL has around 130 archives and special collections that reflect the subject specialisms of the University’s six colleges and provide profound insights into past and contemporary practices within arts, design and communications. They represent a significant cornerstone of the University’s research environment and act as a crucial teaching resource. Items from these collections regularly feature in exhibitions nationally and internationally. Some of the items from these collections as well as associated publications will be on display at the conference.


Booking information and full programme.


Image credit: Broomberg Chanarin - Kettles Yard Installation. Artwork on the left - Untitled 53 - Artwork on the right - Untitled 48. Both works from the series 'Bandage the knife not the wound', 2018