It's been almost a month since the Archivorum Ark project began, and my mind is teeming with ideas and thoughts. The mission I've been entrusted with over the next two years is colossal, almost dizzying: to create the archive of an artist whose career has been as rich as it has been prolific, in terms of both content and substance. How does one approach such a task? Where to begin? How does one decide what does and doesn't constitute an archive? And, more fundamentally, what is an "archive"? While a plan of action has already been drawn up to answer the first questions, the last remains a more haunting one. Indeed, at the heart of this project lies the very nature and status of the archive.
By elaborating an artist's archive, one acquires a certain defining power over the representation, identity, work and even discourse of the "archived" artist. To think of the archive is to think of memory, history, the creation of a certain form of "truth", and the status of the past. We might call this the "authority" of the archive. It is far from being the passive artifact of a bygone moment: its agency persists over time, speaking on behalf of what or who can no longer speak. Naturally, whether we perceive the archive tomorrow or 300 years from now depends on the will, if not the responsibility, of the observer. As Umberto Eco pointed out regarding the work of art, archives are thus always open, never complete (and therefore lacunar ?): each observer imposes his or her interpretation of the archive, making it their own, reinventing it and revisiting it from a contemporary perspective. Given this resolutely plastic and malleable nature of the archive, it will be important to design an immaterial archive - as it will be entirely digital - as faithful as possible to the artist's thoughts, whilst it remains possible to make the artifacts, both material and immaterial, speak through Nil Yalter's voice.
Now that the biennial planning of the project is complete, I am eager to begin. Throughout this exploration into Nil Yalter’s artistic journey, I plan to meticulously document the various stages of the projet, thus creating my own archive of steps taken, discoveries made, significant exchanges, achievements and obstacles encountered. I see this blog as an informal diary, a reflection of the project's progress leading up to the final unveiling in a couple of months. It will also be an opportunity to revisit and delve deeper into my reflections on the archive-making process and the very nature of the archive, drawing insights from my experiences and discussions with Nil and the rest of the Archivorum team. A pivotal phase of the project will conclude next week: my first visit to Nil, marking my first immersion into her archives. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm!