Saturday, May 3, 2014


'A R C H I V U M'
GLEN  SKIEN:  MAY 6  -  MAY 17
Webb Gallery: Griffith University Queensland College of Art Grey St. South Bank Brisbane 

As a cultural activity the Archive is a place that provides a continuum of beginnings, of origins and moments of inception. It also exists as a place of loss, of transition and impermanence where the material objects and written information possess nothing but endings. For several years I was employed at a regional gallery where part of  my duties was to register and catalogue the artists' book collection and general archival materials including art works and exhibition ephemeral. One of the most pleasurable tasks was the making of archival boxes.
I'm not certain if I ever felt the symptoms of Derrida's 'archive fever' but what I was often aware of was the sense of infused melancholia I experienced from the process of resigning these materials to some eternal past. In a sense each consignment was a small death. Apart from providing a reflective form of engaging with the past the place of the archive is a communities haven of nostalgia and melancholia. Perhaps its not a fever at all but a necessary need to be immersed in the only thing that we can ever be certain of, the past. The fragments of stories and associations that arise from the collision between  self-narrative and historical identity have the capacity to confirm both our sense of place as well as providing an understanding of possible displacement in the world. This is what makes the archival space so significant. Not as allegory for remembrance or as a trigger mechanism  for memory, but as an experience of the nature of transition and loss that grounds us to the here and now.
ARCHIVUM explores the nature of the archival space when it is turned in on the artist. When works that  ambiguously float between both the distant and recent pasts are registered, catalogued and consigned to the Archive. 

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