The Archive

I am very interested in the idea of using Archives – whether found, appropriated, created or mine. I have already written about found photographs here referred to the created archive The Fae Richards Photo Album here and the created archives of Joan Fontcuberta here  .

I was looking at Facebook yesterday and saw an item about the Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, his novel Museum of Innocence, and an associated ‘Collection’ he put together – a set of vitrines containing everyday objects that each represent a single moment within the relationship of a young couple’s fated romanace. This collection of The Museum of Innocence  is being exhibited in Somerset House from 27th January to 3 April this year and so I must go to see it. The film-maker Grant Gee has also created a cinematic extension of the novel using the sights and sounds of contemporary Istanbul alongside new text from Pamuk. Here is a trailer from it published on 11 August 2015.


A wonderful idea for connecting found objects, film/photography and literature. I am always looking for these.

Another artist who has come to my attention recently (the joys of reading the blogs of other OCA students) is Christian Boltonski who has spent much of his career examining issues of loss, memory and death. Boltonski creates mixed-media installations using everyday documents, items such as passport photographs, school portraits, family albums and worn clothing to memorialise ordinary people, unknown children killed in the holocaust, local working people and also people’s heartbeats  – a collection that is now housed in a purpose-built museum on an uninhabited island off the coast of Japan.

I am slowly collecting a ‘found’ archive of a variety of photographs obtained from sites such as eBay as I have in mind a project which, alongside my own photographs, could connect with my Assignment 2 “Expressing the Unseen”, where I created a fictional blog with associated photographs. This could provide Paul Dumont with an extended family.

More importantly, I am constantly promising myself that I will create a series around my personal archive of photographs, letters and other documents – maybe more than one because I can think of at least three at the moment – the women in my family , a wartime childhood and my father’s letters. I used a few photographs in previous blog posts in People & Place here and during this current Module here.  I have also referred to my idea of using the metaphor of an apple tree and have been taking photographs over the past year.

One of the ideas I had for Assignment 5 was to either construct a photograph of my archive or, more complex I think, to construct a tableau around self and identity. During experimental practising for Assignment 5 I created some self-portraits of myself looking at some of the material I have.  In the event I decided that my archive merits longer term work following more reflection on the idea but, as a promise to myself (and, hopefully, my next Module) here are some photographs:-



13 thoughts on “The Archive

  1. This really is a strong set. The colour differences – the strong modern colour of the photo against the old colours of the letters and photos really works especially in the first and last images.


  2. Hi Catherine , a really interesting post and a great set of images . Like Pete I find the initial & last image very powerful. As you know I have been working with my personal family archives for assignments & have been looking at found photography recently too so some useful links here for me to follow up.


  3. I like the last image too. It is very strong. Maybe the archive is something to work on alongside the course at present, so that when you do it, you can give it your best shot. I am thinking of doing something similar with my own family archive of photos, but don’t feel ready yet to do it proper justice.


  4. Pingback: Approaching the Assignment | Context and Narrative

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