Transforming Records: Poetic Becomings in the Archive
(California Institute of the Arts)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses the collaborative archival poetry-making of poet Kaia Sand, whose work offers new ways of understanding how artistic use of records can produce novel relations and illustrates some of the ways in which bodies can perform—interpret, manifest, reinvent, and transmit—archives.
Paper long abstract:
The archival record, by being put to new uses and subject to different interpretations over time and space, is "always in a process of becoming" (McKemmish, 2001). Contemporary archival art practice, in which artists engage records to reconsider historical narratives; expose silenced or missing voices; investigate relations between official and personal memory; or, create new stories, brings to the fore such becomings of the record as well as how the archive is a place of embodied experience that forms vital links between past, present, and future motion of bodies (e.g., human bodies, bodies of knowledge, organizational bodies). In this paper, I draw upon my ethnographic study of an artist-in-residence program at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) in Portland, Oregon, USA (2013-2015) as well as engage archival theory, "relational aesthetics," (Bourriaud, 2002) and performance theory to contemplate the collaborative archival poetry work of investigative poet Kaia Sand, during her residency at PARC. In particular, I focus on the creation and various transmissions of "She Had Her Own Reason for Participating," a poem Sand created through her experiences working with police surveillance records related to women activists. The poem comprises inscribed copper plates, an accordion fold book made in collaboration with a visual artist, and a performance by Sand and one of PARC's archivists. Sand's archival interventions offer new ways of understanding how records can inspire and produce novel relations and illustrate some of the ways in which bodies can perform—interpret, manifest, reinvent, and transmit—archives.
Bodies of Archives/Archival Bodies