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Thursday, June 8 • 5:00pm - Saturday, June 10 • 7:00pm
Archiving Artist-Run Spaces

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Archiving Artist-Run Spaces is a workshop and an archival project to preserve images, oral history and activity of precarious artist-run spaces as well as online creative communities. These communities, especially those connected to exhibiting physical works, may exist in a physical space such as 'alternative spaces,' places that artists convert into public exhibition space other than traditional commercial galleries such as warehouses, lofts and storefronts. Other artist-run communities may exist solely online, never having inhabited a physical space. But both may have community members who engage in discussion online in a forum, host a website, share images, post online videos, among many other activities. These communities build websites or use platforms like Flickr, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and others to share and document their activity. These platforms are also where visiting guests who may take photos, screenshots or otherwise engage with the works may post their own documentation. When DIY artist communities come together in a community of practice, they contribute writing, images, poetry, memes, music, videogames and other media depending on the platform and the media of the community. As these spaces wish to preserve their activities, events, and creative works they brush up against the limitations of using platforms as their main broadcast channels. They may lack documentation; sites and platforms may restrict access, shut down, or change business models; volunteers may disappear, get burnt out, or move on. Archiving Artist-Run Spaces will present the unique challenges faced by these communities, present examples of producing digital archives and a toolkit of possible tools and workflows for selecting and preserving and sharing these works. Participants will be led through a process to identify, collect, collate and start the process to present a digital archive of their own or to contribute to building a selected artist-run community's archive. Guiding questions include: What are the ways these communities (which may exist only on Discord, a forum, a Facebook group, or a GitHub repo for example) can preserve their work outside of the closed platform? What does preservation mean when we are talking about documenting ephemeral media? What is the role of oral history in documenting these spaces and communities? And how do we consider sharing this work as research, for exhibition and for the communities themselves? This work will be informed by looking at current examples of building digital archives and oral history of DIY artist-run communities and several models of "preservation." Examples of digital archives by DIY artist-run communitities include The Glorious Trainwrecks Software Collection, KCHUNG Radio in conjuction with Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Experimental Archive Space for Space 1026, Little Berlin online, Babycastles Archive and others.

Archiving as a practice has evolved enormously and in recent years a number of scholars have written about, critiqued and experimented with new forms and approaches to archiving. Approaching the idea of the archive means one must deal with discussions of power, and who gets to tell and ‘preserve’ a community’s story and who has access to the archive itself. An important question each community must address is who they are building their archive for. Looking at archives and archival practices of communities concerned with justice and equity provide insight on concerns when building an archive. Examples examined includeMukurtu Indigenous Archiving Tool andInterference Archive, dedicated toexploring the relationship between cultural production and social movements, and the practices of digital archives such as Open Research Archive at NSCAD.

Ultimately, the success of long term preservation (in addition to access) of a web archive is dependent on the location it is stored. The archives are currently stored on a non-corporate web server space with backups, as well as GitHub, and local copies given to the artist-run spaces. An exhibition of physical archives is part of the proposal, which shows physically stored copies of these digital archives. A cooperative agreement with the Internet Archive to serve as an institutional steward of web archives and server is currently in discussion, and additional partners for longterm stewards of these archives is being sought.


Lee Tusman

Assistant Professor of New Media and Computer Science, Purchase College

Thursday June 8, 2023 5:00pm - Saturday June 10, 2023 7:00pm EDT
Steuben Gallery