Launch of Publication ‘Archive as Medium: Exploring the Performative Body’ by Najrin Islam
‘Archive as Medium: Exploring the Performative Body’ published by TAKE on Art magazine is launched along with a presentation of the research work by Najrin Islam (AWA awardee) as part of Art Writers’ Award 2018-19 on 8 August 2019. The presentation and talk is moderated by Mario D’Souza, independent curator and chaired by Katya García-Antón, director, OCA Norway. The event is organized in collaboration with Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and Gallery Latitude 28.
About ‘Archive as Medium: Exploring the Performative Body’
Over the 45 days of the residency as part of Art Writers’ Award, Najrin Islam looked at the various ways in which the notion of the archive could be approached, particularly the dialogue amongst archive, research and creation in the contemporary context by analyzing how performance artists have made use of the ephemeral quality of the medium to preserve its importance in the tangible afterlife.
“In this book, I discuss specific case studies that use archival resources as a medium for the realisation of performance pieces through a personal lens. I begin with my observations at the Swiss Archives of Performing Arts (SAPA) in Bern that functions as a museum and houses a vast collection of documents and allied material on theatre productions in Switzerland. I have interviewed performance artists Stefanie Knobel and Romy Rüegger and concentrated on select projects from their bodies of work that deal with archival material either literally or as embodied practice. I have also deviated from performance art proper and concentrated on a production in the German language titled ‘Hotel of Immigrants’, which I viewed as an audience member at the alternative performance venue, Gessneralle Zurich. Finally, I discuss the historically important Cabaret Voltaire – the birthplace of the seminal Dada Movement – and how architectural spaces can also function as archives of the past. In preparation for this book, I’ve had to filter out certain information while retaining others in order to find a frame and trajectory for my thoughts. This is a dilemma in the field of archival studies as well, where the archive, by nature, is based on a series of selections and deletions, the motivation being to preserve material deemed most ‘representative’ of the production in question. I look at these questions through the processual journeys of the artists, spaces and productions to see if or how the notion of the archive extends beyond its traditional role as static repositories of information.”