One of the most compelling issues explored by artists in recent years centers on the nature and meaning of the archive, that is, how we create, store, and circulate pictures and information. This widespread investigation examines the archive as both a conceptual and physical space in which memories are preserved and history decided. The exhibition presents works by contemporary Hungarian and Romanian photographers and artists who use photographic images to rethink the meaning of identity, history, memory, and loss.
No single definition can convey the complexities of a concept like
The show explores the ways in which artists have appropriated, interpreted, reconfigured, and interrogated archival structures and materials. The principal vehicles of these artistic practices —photography — is also preeminent forms of archival material, and artists have used them in a variety of ways. The works presented here take many forms, including physical archives arranged by unusual cataloguing methods, imagined biographies of fictitious persons, collections of found and anonymous photographs, photographic albums, and photomontages composed of historical photographs. In spite of the diversity of subject matter, these works are linked by the artists’ shared meditation on photography as the quintessential media of the archive. Artistic uses of the archive suggest not only a serious interest in the nature of the archival form as found in photography, but the larger relationship of art to historical reflections on the past. Retracings investigates this form as both an artistic medium and a working method that generates new kinds of relationships to information and opens new historical vistas. As both an artistic vehicle and a methodology of critical approaches to artmaking, the archive functions as a force of active translation and a mechanism for reenacting historical events.
curator: Gabriella Uhl