When David Octavius Hill started recording fishwives in the late 1850s, he was hardly aware of the historic inversion he was setting into motion. For the first time in the history of arts, ordinary spaces, commonplace objects, through the intervention of photographic medium, achieved extraordinary status. It is this moment that sets archiving in motion as the eye that accustomed itself to grandeur of painting was being recalibrated again to extract the beautiful from the ordinary. All mechanical arts hereafter have been a celebration of the face of the faceless. Be it Van Gogh’s Prisoners’ Round (1890), Hill’s fishwives or Lumière Brothers’ Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895) - the nineteenth century marks the archiving of the anonymous across various art forms.
However, as human civilization enters the age of Anthropocene, migration and movement forms the core of human existence. If aesthetics is to be understood as an expression of the experience of existence, then archiving itself becomes an aesthetic practice. As against laconic nature of memory, the apparent ability of the representation to preserve a time and space engenders the ‘archive fever’ that grapples the present. From personal to universal, from local to global- it can span generations and continents. Beyond the representation, the traces of materiality left on the representation as an imprint of time becomes a point of introspection for archivists as the universe of art mourns the death of the celluloid. The scope of archive thus becomes an ever-expanding one where material, represented content and their interaction all comes under consideration.
‘Art as Archive’ is an effort to initiate a dialogue between the various forms of visual art and their archival turns. Such a conversation allows an opportunity to identify the common forces at work and offers an alternative understanding of art history beyond an appreciation of formal beauty. From the microcosm of ‘home’ to the macrocosm of the ‘metropolis’- archive must be understood as a residue of the self, society and everything in between. Meandering across painting, photography, and cinema while gyrating around the idea of archive, the discussion will attempt to address the larger concern of the festival beyond the thematic.
The panel discussion will be held post the inauguration ceremony at Victoria Memorial Hall from 5 PM on 24th February, 2017.