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Milestone shift

It has now been more than six months since we commenced the project. Although I am reasonably satisfied with our accomplishments thus far, much remains to be done. Since April, the project has progressed at an unpredictable pace. The Biennale, Nil’s move, the renovations of her studio, her travels abroad, my other professional and academic commitments, and various life events have significantly delayed the data collection and digitization phase. Nothing too alarming; these are normal obstacles and unpredictable factors for any project, large or small in scale. Although I have not seen Nil in person for several weeks, we maintain regular contact by phone.

That said, we (Arianna, the project coordinator with whom I converse weekly, and I) are not allowing this delay to dishearten us, and we have prioritized entering “solution“ mode: we opted for a milestone shift.

Indeed, I am discussing delays, and my tone might appear pessimistic and discouraged; however, I have had the opportunity to gather substantial data, sufficient to constitute an “artistic“ archive of Nil Yalter. As I explained to Arianna, if we were to imagine that the project halted now, we could regard ourselves as proud and satisfied with the final archive: approximately ten hours of audio recordings, nearly a thousand images, and over an hour of video excerpts. The only downside is the scarcity of Nil’s so-called “personal“ archives. By personal archives, I refer to personal letters, biographical photographs, those she took of immigrant workers in France that she later integrated into her works, and other material objects documenting Nil’s life journey. Without these artefacts digitized, sorted, and compiled, the final archive would be somewhat “impersonal“ at least less intimate than if we managed to integrate all these precious archives.

For Nil, it is essential that the digitization work, both of her artworks and personal archives, is conducted exhaustively. This objective remains paramount for us as well. However, we have decided to place the digitization on hold and revisit it at the end of the year, around November, when Nil will hopefully be fully available to grant me access to her studio and delve into her archives.

Consequently, we have opted for a change of direction. Rather than “tagnating“ while awaiting the completion of Nil’s renovations and move, we will commence work on the critical publication.

The next few weeks will thus be dedicated to identifying a potential publisher, conceptualizing the principal chapters and/or sections of the book, and its storyline. What do we wish to discuss? What angle will we take? How can we explore the archive as a concept and Nil’s archives as concrete and tangible elements? How can we address the process and the project? What explanatory and descriptive texts need to be written? Which author should we invite to contribute? What graphic design should we adopt? What is the budget and timeline for the project? What contextual information is necessary for each archive? How will the book be promoted?

A multitude of questions to which I hope to find answers over the coming weeks, and about which I will certainly keep you informed.

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