Thursday, September 17, 2015

Protesting the Archive: The Artist as Producer (Notes)

Christian Boltanski heartbeat collection exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris [III] 
In  this article  Jennifer Walden provides a summary of Jacques Derrida’s key points from Archive Fever A Freudian Impression.  For Derrida there is a dual function of the archive, the seeking of the memory and the ‘call to order’ through the collecting and organizing information.  Derrida conceives the search for the past as being in line with Freud's concept of the Death Drive.  Above all Derrida expands on Foucault’s understanding of the archive as key to the construction of knowledge.  For Derrida the archive is a technology for creating discourse.

1) The archive is about seeking after origins (arche- origin-e.g. archaeology) as, in Freudian terms, we can understand it has something of the ‘death drive’ about it- seeking that prime point from which ‘x’ came, in order to return to a stasis- hence the compulsion to repeat or in some collectors terms- the compulsion to complete.

2) Archive has something of a control- a ‘call to order’ and ordering or ‘bringing into discursive articulation’ about it. This connects with the philosopher Michel Foucault’s notion of the archive as the arch-originating ‘system’, the ‘order’ of knowledge and discourse of knowledge which Foucault sees a defining different historical ‘eras’; that which enables the conceptualization of the ‘era’ as such.

Art as document

Hal Foster argues that art functions as a document in an archive.  In an essay in his Design and Crime he refers to the archive as Michel Foucault has it as ‘the system that governs the appearance of statements’ and more specifically Foster refers to the archival relations of modern art practice, the art museum and art history and “the ‘memory-structure’ that these three systems produced through a kind of encountering of opposites or dialectics of seeing.” [Quotation modified] [See Foster’s Archives of Modern Art  65-82].

WJT Mitchell — Notes on Picture Theory

In analyzing the “pictorial turn” in his book Picture Theory, Mitchell begins by raising important questions about how images reference t...