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Reflecting on the shifting perspectives on archives, from a realm of 'deep storage' to a fluid and generative resource.

Join Sue Breakell, Brighton University Design Archive, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, PhD researcher/artist/archivist and Alice O'Hanlon, freelance archivist, in discussing the archive - from its materiality and organisation to the conceptual and creative practices engaged with it. The presentations will be accompanied by further responses from Panya BanjokoLila Matsumoto, and Naomi Pearce. The session will conclude with an informal panel discussion chaired by Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator: Archive Gallery, Whitechapel, and questions from the audience.

Working in the contemporary age of the expanded archive and the immateriality of digitisation, the archive is no longer bound by its traditional definitions. How can the archive, as both site and construct, contribute new layers of understanding not only to the past but also to the ‘future [im]perfect’?

Reflecting on the changing perspectives and multiplicity of archives - from a realm of deep storage to a fluid and generative resource - The Future Perfect explores how archives become entangled with the present moment.

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Sue Breakell - Navigating the possibilities of the archive

Archives lend themselves to projects which encourage artists and designers to respond to objects and documents in a way that harnesses the subjectivities of their own practice, and engages with individual and collective memory. I will consider aspects of subjectivity in relation to the archive, the user and the creator, in both analogue and digital contexts, with an emphasis on visual arts contexts. In doing so, I’ll look at the blurring of roles around the archive, in the “information management society” where, according to Jussi Parikka, we are all “miniarchivists”.

Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski - Tacit Lives in the Archives: TGA956, The Ronald C. Moody Papers

This presentation aims to investigate a series of questions relating to the Ronald C. Moody Papers held by Tate Britain. What can artist collections tell us when we trace through the moments of creation that exist within them? What role can the Moody archive have in relation to marginalisation, exclusion/inclusion in art history? Could Moody's archive be used to explore how traditional archival paradigms can be pluralised? How can the Moody archive inform or support collective and national identity formation and memory?

Alice O'Hanlon - Creative Archiving in Creative Settings

Examining approaches to working for a broad range of clients, from individual artists through to design practices and cultural institutions, this talk looks at the need for adopting a flexible and creative attitude, particularly in the context of live, ever-evolving collections. Alice will provide case studies of her work across different settings and the ways in which creative individuals and environments challenge and stretch more traditional definitions of archives, and how each archive offers unique opportunities for materials to be explored, shared and re-purposed.

With further presentations and creative responses from Panya BanjokoLila Matsumoto and Naomi Pearce.

The event will take place on the closing of Not an Archive, from 2-6pm on Saturday 23 November 2019.

Not an Archive is an exhibition of new works by artists Kobby Adi, Celia-Yunior and Suzanne van der Lingen, in response to the dispersed and ephemeral archive of the New Contemporaries. Curated by Emily Gray. The exhibition is open Thurs-Sat, 1-23 November.



Sue Breakell is Archivist at the University of Brighton Design Archives, and a Senior Research Fellow. Her research engages with critical thinking about the nature, meaning and practice of archives, focusing on their use in visual arts contexts and in the history and practice of art and design. She has extensive experience of working with archives, including cataloguing the papers of Kenneth Clark and other large archives of modern British art and artists at Tate Archive; working as both War Artists Archivist and Museum Archivist at the Imperial War Museum, and as Company Archivist at Marks and Spencer. Prior to her post at Brighton she was head of Tate Archive.

Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski is currently a PhD student at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) and Tate Britain. Her doctoral research investigates the life, works, mobilities and philosophy of Ronald Moody (1900 - 1984), placing much needed critical attention on the artworks and personal papers of this Jamaican sculptor and philosopher. She holds a master’s degree in Archives and Record Management (International) from University College London, UK. Her work explores archives in relation to Black and minority ethnic and histories and experiences in Britain and throughout the Diaspora.

Alice O'Hanlon re-trained as an Archivist in 2012, further to several years working in a range of cultural settings including the Museum of London and the RIBA and to completing a Fine Art MA at UAL. She has managed the archive of Heatherwick Studio, the architecture and design practice of Thomas Heatherwick, and an archival project at CASS Sculpture Foundation. Alice currently works as a freelance archive consultant, with clients including individual artists such as David Remfry RA and David Ward (as part of the Art360 project), as well as the Design Museum, the Royal Society of Sculptors, Monty Python, architects David Adjaye and David Kohn, and the fashion designer Sir Paul Smith.

Lila Matsumoto is an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. Her publications include Urn & Drum (Shearsman, 2018); Soft Troika (If a Leaf Falls Press, 2016) and Allegories from my Kitchen (Sad Press, 2015). She convenes the poetry performance platform Nottingham Poetry Exchange and co-runs the poetry and arts journal FRONT HORSE.

Panya Banjoko is a UK based writer, poet and PhD candidate at Nottingham Trent University. Her debut collection, Some Things, was published by Burning Eye Books (2018). Her work has featured in numerous anthologies including award-winning Dawn of the Unread (LeftLion, 2016). Her poems have been commended in the Writing East Midlands Aurora Poetry Competition (2017) and featured in an exhibition by Keith Piper, and has undertaken artist residencies in Germany, India and the UK. Panya is the founder of Nottingham Black Archive, coordinates a Black Writers’ Network, and is patron for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.

Naomi Pearce is a writer living in Glasgow. Recent projects include OSTEON, Matt's Gallery, London and Every Contact Leaves a Trace, Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Her essays, reviews and fiction have been published by The Happy Hypocrite, The White Review, Film and Video Umbrella, Art Monthly, Art Review and SALT Magazine, amongst others. From 2009 she co-founded the Woodmill, Bermondsey, South London until 2014. She is currently finishing a mystery novel as part of an AHRC-funded practice-based PhD researching women administrators, artist studios and gentrification at Edinburgh College of Art.

Nayia Yiakoumaki is Curator of the Archive Gallery and Head of Curatorial Studies at Whitechapel Gallery. Establishing the Archive Gallery in 2005, this programme has received international attention for its innovative approach regarding the use of the archive as a curatorial resource. She has lectured extensively on the subject of visual arts and curating, and has a PhD in Visual Arts from the department of Curating, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Emily Gray is a curator and current PhD researcher on the subject of archives and contemporaneity at Nottingham Trent University. Combining a decade of arts programming and management in the visual arts sector alongside postgraduate study in Art Theory and Curatorial Practice, her research interests include exhibition making as research, the archive as a generative resource, and 'untimeliness'.

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