Hal Foster – An Archival Impulse

Foster, H. (2004). An archival impulse. October, 110(110), 3-22. doi:10.1162/0162287042379847  – reference of the Hal foster Article

– Reference for all quotes used

What does Hal Foster say archival artists do? What kinds of examples does he refer to?

‘seek to make historical information; elaborate on the found image, object, and text’ (p3) and their chosen format is usually installation work as this is the best way to showcase their work and make sure that an audience will see it. Foster says that these artists tend to work with inventories, samples and then sharing their work with others so that they engage fully with their work and their audience. The examples that he gives for this theory are Douglas Gordon who works with ‘Time readymade’ installations and Pierce Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, ‘No Ghost Just a Shell(1999-2003)’.

Summary of Foster’s description and analysis of Thomas Hirschhorn’s work – with quotes

Foster says the Hirschhorn’s work ‘seeks to ‘distribute ideas’, ‘liberate activity’ and ‘radiate energy’ all at once’, this suggests that he wants his audience to learn whenever they see his work and expose a variety of audiences to alternative archives that they may not have been exposed to before. He does this through the use of public spaces where the work cannot be dismissed.

Hirschhorn works in four categories:

Direct Sculptures – This can be shown in exhibitions, and showcase messages that are nothing to do with the original purposes. ‘Planned Vandalism’ (p8) – this means that he wants his audiences to vandalise his work as a way of engaging with it, which is what makes the sculpture nothing to do with the original purpose.

Altars – This stems from the direct sculptures as they are designed to commemorate cultural figures that are deemed important by Hirschhorn. He would place these figure somewhere these people could have died by accident, not where they actually died. He fills these spaces with photographs and notes as if a memorial is being set up. It is optional for the audience to engage.

Kiosks – These are much more information based and have less of an emotional attachment.

Monuments – These are dedicated to philosophers and combine the approaches that Hirschhorn uses for the Altars and the Kiosks.

Ultimately, Hirschhorn want to ‘Connect what cannot be connected’ (p10, Hirschhorn) because he wants his audiences to invest in the radical practices of art, literature and philosophy and engage with it as it is in there reach; remove the social classes and making these works for everyone.

Summary of Foster’s description and analysis of Tacita Dean’s approach to archival material – with quotes

Foster suggests that Tacita Dean ‘Recalls lost souls'(p11) as she recreates stories that she feels fit with the artefact that she has collected or seen. Her main methods of working are through photographs, blackboard drawings, sound pieces, short films and videos that have the narrative alongside that explains the stories that she has found and elaborated on. She is attracted to people, things and places that are stranded, outmoded or sidelined. The kinds of things that would evoke creepy and scary stories of lost souls. Sometimes her work can be melancholic, but she tries to avoid this as this is not effect that she is trying to achieve. Often Vertiginous (change quickly causing confusion and unsettlement) and always incomplete, meaning that her stories could have any ending because we do not know what actually happened to these people that she talks about, or even if they were real.

Tacita Dean is meticulous in her collection of her sources as she is looking for something in particular the would immediately inspire her into writing these amazing narratives that go alongside her work, as this is extremely important for her work to have the desired effect on her audience.

How does Sam Durant use objects of material culture as part of his archival art practice? with quotes

Sam Durrant uses drawings, photographs, Xerox collages (printed collages), sculptures, installations, sounds and videos to exploit theatrical space in order to get his work noticed and seen by the majority.

Durrant is drawn to a wide range of sources that depict the cultures of the past, but he is particularly drawn to post-war American culture. He likes to juxtapose cultures in order to get his audience to merge social classes. He does this by taking iconic objects from a particular period/culture and deface them in some way, for example, turning a chair upside down because it exposes the chair and makes it disfunctional, therefore it can no longer serve a purpose. He ‘Proposes new orders of affective association'(p21)  by supplying his audience with something that they can all discuss because they are all put on the same spot when facing his work.


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