Collections and Archives

At the ICI we have an expansive definition of ‘the archive.’ It is a repository of stuff and things formed from activities that have been called by others: accumulation, collection, hoarding and even psychosis. We agree with Allan Sekula when he says meaning in the archive is both residual and potential. The archive is about the past but as much about the future. Sekula likens the active archive to the toolshed, the dormant archive to the abandoned toolshed. If that is the case, then the ICI’s toolshed(s) exist in a foreign country where all signs and directions are in a strange language we don’t quite understand. There are some objects that we’ve grouped together into collections—a 2500+ volume library, a cabinet of earth, a collection of arcane tools and devices—but membership in these ‘clubs’ is constantly subject to review and revision. Likewise, the inventory of our holdings is always in a state of becoming. We have abandoned most taxonomic and diachronic assessments of our archive; we recognized long ago that all claims to impartiality are dubious, that any claim to knowledge maintains a link to power. And so we try as much as we can to follow Sekula’s suggestion, to read the archive “from a position of solidarity with those displaced, deformed, silenced or made invisible by the machineries of profit and progress.”
                                                  
      Ephemera Kabinett                              Earth Kabinett                            Field Work Document
.
.
                                   
    Film Closet                                               Library                                          Photo Cabinet
.
.
                                             
   Raw Material                                          Tools + Arcana                               Workroom

 

To read more about the Institute’s day-to-day interaction with its archive, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *