The Ties That Bind Artists and Archives
February 17 – April 4, 2015
Artists’ Reception: Tuesday, March 10, 5 – 7 pm
Public Program: Wednesday, February 25, 7 pm
Lecture by exhibiting artist Anna Craycroft
The Ties That Bind: Artists and Archives presents seven artists who use the archive in its myriad forms to explore our collective histories and shared humanity. Working in various mediums including video, photography, drawing, and installation, these artists comb a host of sources—the news, the Internet, their own basements and attics—in search of images, objects, and memories that build upon the social and cultural ties that bind us together, for better or worse.
For these artists, the concept of the archive is wide open and readily remixed. An archive contains boundless potential for those who wish to stake a claim to its contents, read its enigmatic signs, and then preserve, protect, understand, and share what lies within. An archive is mutable. It becomes a tool to play with, a mental or actual space where the artist can think anew, activate long-dormant materials or memories, and invent new hierarchies, while disassembling old ones. To create or investigate an archive, to revel in its depths, and to pull meaning from its contents is an affirmation of our existence, a devotional activity. In the context of this exhibition, archives assembled over time and presented publicly can become a unifying force, one that makes cultural connections, as well as emotional ones.
The artists in this exhibition follow subjective paths as they give shape and meaning to their archival investigations; they ask their own questions and follow their own logic. They respond emotionally and aesthetically to their chosen material. Their investigations may begin with idiosyncratic probing into particular figures, objects, and events in art, culture, and personal or public history. Artists Anna Craycroft, Michael Oatman, and Shane Aslan Selzer are drawn to the possibilities of an archive as a means to make lost or displaced historical information physically present, whereas Kateřina Šedá, Brian Zanisnik, and Elise McMahon are driven by the desire to make sense of other people’s private experiences. Aurélien Froment culls from historic and personal sources to draw out visual affinities across time and cultures. Each artist poses these questions: what happens to objects and images when remixed into new systems and categories; what memories and emotions are sparked; what new meaning and ideas arise?
Believing that we can comprehend culture through our relationships to pictures and objects, these artists invite us to join them in archival spaces that give visual form to their research. Through strategies that include appropriated images, expressive arrangements, idiosyncratic ordering, interweaving montages, serial formats, and informational structures, each artist reimagines relationships and connects what may never before have been connected. Whether presented as videos, photographs, or immersive environments, their findings are ultimately meant to be upended. While there is much that is familiar here—popular icons, familial longings, social inequities, the trappings and rituals of modern life—there is much that awaits future reordering.
Each body of work in this exhibition contains images and objects bound to our collective ideals. In this sense, the respective archives these artist investigate and present become our mirror, a collective space that metaphorically becomes a place for memory and imagination to meet.
Corinna Ripps Schaming
Funding for the exhibition and publication is provided by UAlbany’s Office of the President and Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services, and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.
The Bough That Falls With All Its Trophies Hung, 2009
35 x 83 inches