UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sum of the parts | art and the archive : the status of the document Jackson, Jennifer


In her 1992 publication Atget’s Seven Albums, Molly Nesbit opens with an introduction subtitled The Document. She compellingly defines the document by situating its relationship to photography, the archive, and visual art. Nesbit’s tremendously important identification of the intersection between art and the archive is where I will situate the focus of this paper. Through this intersection, I will demonstrate a rereading of the status of the document by considering the extended relationship between art and the archive. In particular, I will look at the status of the document as artwork and the ways in which contemporary art of the 21st century comes to stand in for the document. I will establish this point by examining the ready-made subject of archival structures as well as the overlapping spheres of the document and art. I will perform a rereading of the status of the document by tracing its trajectory from the discourse of empirical facticity to a more complex dimension of mnemonic production. This rereading will consider the document and memory as resources available for extraction and activation. Throughout, I will set specific limits for this research by positioning previous scholarship in relation to a selection of films and performances by artists Deanna Bowen, Felix Kalmenson, Divya Mehra, Krista Belle Stewart, and Casey Wei. Within these limits, I will examine the politics of these artists’ works with attention to formalism and historicity.

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