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Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media

Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media is dedicated to art practices that mobilize the model of the archive, demonstrating the ways in which such archival artworks probe the possibilities of what art is and what it can do.

Ernst van Alphen
10 November 2014

Through a variety of media, methodologies and perspectives, the artists surveyed here also challenge the principles on which the notions of organization, evidence and documentation are built. Early examples of artworks referencing archives were made in the 1930s, but it is since the 1960s that archival principles have increasingly been used by artists to inform, structure and shape their works. Staging the Archive incorporates practices that consist of archive construction, archaeological investigation, record keeping and the use of archived materials, but also includes artworks that interrogate the principles, claims and effects of the archive as well as the Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia. The book shows how artists have, over recent decades, read the concept of the archive against the grain, questioning not only what the archive is and can be but what materials, images or ideas can be archived. 

Ernst van Alphen explores the work of artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Broodthaers, Christian Boltanski, Fiona Tan and Sophie Calle, writers including Georges Perec and film-makers such as Alain Resnais and Péter Forgács. Staging the Archive thus reveals how modern and comtemporary artists have used and contested the notion of the archive – an increasingly pertinent theme in the twenty-first century – to establish new relationships to history, information and data.

Published 10 November 2014 by Reaktion Books Ltd.

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