Visualising the Archive: A Workshop with elin o’Hara slavick

Location and date: Groningen, 10 September 2019, 10-17

Organizers: Jan van Egmond (Academie Minerva), Camilla Sutherland (RUG), Ruby de Vos (RUG) in collaboration with elin o’Hara slavick

Credit: 1 EC

What is the archive, and what role does it play in contemporary art and culture? Which historical, institutional, and political ideas shape our understanding of the archive? What are the ethical implications of engaging with the archive as an artist, and how do they play a role in the creation and reception of the artwork? And which methodologies and concepts are helpful to study these practices as a researcher of art and culture? These are some of the questions this workshop will explore in collaboration with visual artist elin o’Hara slavick, through a theoretical as well as a practice-based workshop.

In critical theory the archive has long been an object of interest, most notably through the work of Foucault and Derrida. Both connect the archive to knowledge production and discursive processes of inclusion and exclusion through practices of organisation and categorisation. The archive is thus a potent site for reflections on memory and forgetting, even as its material dimensions are changing in an age where the logic of the archive is affected by increased digitisation and online access to the database (Dekker 2013). In contemporary art and culture, at the same time, we can witness what Hal Foster has called an “archival impulse” (2004), as the archival, both as a practice and as an aesthetic, is increasingly visible in the gallery and the museum (Van Alphen 2014). Against this background, this workshop asks: what kind of transformation does (or doesn’t) the archive undergo in the artistic process?

This workshop takes the exhibition of US-artist elin o’Hara slavick’s work at Galerie Block C in Groningen as a starting point to engage with the questions about the archive outlined above. In her work After Hiroshima, slavick works with objects from the archive of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, creating fragile works that paradoxically attest to the violence of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the city in 1945. Starting with a discussion session of set texts in the morning, lead by Sutherland and De Vos (RUG), participants will also engage in a practice-based session in the afternoon lead by O’Hara slavick and Van Egmond (Academie Minerva). To further encourage connections between theory and artistic practice, the session will be open to RMA and PhD students from NICA as well as to students from the Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen.

Visualising the Archive is part of the programme of After Hiroshima: Cultural Responses to the Atomic Bomb, a series of events about the atomic bomb that will take place in Groningen from 7 until 14 September 2019. More information can be found here.

Registration & practicalities

6 places are available for RMA and PhD students. Participants are asked to write a brief motivation letter (350 words max.) in which they outline their interest in the topic, by reference to one case study that interests them (for example a physical/virtual archive, a cultural practitioner engaged in archival praxis, personal experiences with the archive as research tool etc.). Deadline: 27 June 2019

Applications and questions to: c.g.sutherland@rug.nl and r.e.de.vos@rug.nl

The workshop will take place at various locations in the city center of Groningen, including a visit to O’Hara slavick’s exhibition in Galerie Block C. Readings will be announced and distributed closer to the date.

Image courtesy of elin o’Hara slavick.