Memory & History
"Archival artists seek to make historical information, often lost or displaced, physically present. To this end they elaborate on the found image, object, and text, and favor the installation format as they do so. (Frequently they use its nonhierarchical spatiality to advantage-which is rather rare in contemporary art.)" "These sources are familiar, drawn from the archives of mass culture, to ensure a legibility that can then be disturbed or detourne;but they can also be obscure, retrieved in a gesture of alternative knowledge or counter- memory." - Hall Foster in An Archival Impulse
Reminder! Exam 2 due tonight at 11:59 PM!!
Rough Draft Share due on Monday, April 17
Visual Analysis/Museum Paper due on Monday, April 24
Ashley Bickerton, Self Portrait, 1988.











Richard Prince, Girlfriends, 1993.












various zines











"Archival art is as much preproduction as it is postproduction: concerned less with absolute origins than with obscure traces (perhaps 'anarchival impulse' is the more appropriate phrase), these artists are often drawn to unfulfilled beginnings or incomplete projects - in art and in history alike - that might offer points of departure again." - Hal Foster in An Archival Impulse
Carrie Mae Weems, BLACK WOMAN WITH CHICKEN and LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR...from the Ain't Jokin' series, 1987 - 1988.





















Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.












Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.











Carrie Mae Weems, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995 - 1996.






















"However, the girls pictured are not victims of genocide: the photographs, of anonymous children, were culled from magazines and newspapers. The boxes are not truly old, and the cloth contained in them is generic and has no special origin. Boltanski creates an atmosphere of general, unspecified mourning through means—photographs, relics—traditionally valued for their privileged claim to specificity, uniqueness, and authenticity. A vocabulary of documentary signs is used movingly, but deceptively, for symbolic effect."
Christian Boltanski, Storefront, 1988.












Christian Boltanski, The Reserve of the Dead Swiss, 1990.











"More than mere postmodern instability and uncertainty, the work emphasizes this quality of coming apart in the way the pieces are mounted: flaps of fabric stick out, bulge into ostentatious three-dimensionality, and/or hang limply. The artist statement 'rather vague and un-illuminating' invites us to re-contextualize, to speculate, and to free-associate. Yet the tricky part lies in actually pinning down the purpose of the many references, allusions, and appropriations in Bryant?s work. In the end, what all the hems, sutures, and zippers share with the process of making meaning is the steady promise of a controlled and inevitable unraveling." - Christine Schmidt
Ernest Arthur Bryant III, Trick Baby, 2005.











"A number of artists primarily use the archive as a framing device in order to realize invented characters or events. Zoe Leonard created the fictional Fae Richards, an acclaimed black actress and singer who 'lived' from 1908 to 1973, for her synonomous archive dedicated to the 'legendary' figure. Using film stills, publicity materials, photographs, and recollections, Leonard creates a rich history culled from the real lives and stories of black women in the early days of Hollywood. Through her invented character, Leonard began a conversation about very real issues that risked being forgotten." - Artspace
Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye, The Fae Richards Photo Archive, 1993 - 1996.

















Zoe Crosher, Mae Wested no. 3 (crumpled) from the Michelle DuBois Project, c. 2012.
Digital C-print, 36 x 36 in.











Zoe Crosher, For UR Eyes Only, from the Michelle duBois project, c. 2009.
Zoe Crosher, Cindy-Shermanesque, from the Michelle duBois project, c. 2009.











"For all the images we have, we can still grasp only the faintest threads of duBois' narrative and inner workings. Crosher speaks to the impossibility of truly knowing a person and the impossibility of ever knowing oneself. Michelle duBois' ability to fictionalize is so great, her seeming lack of self-awareness so profound, that any truths that once existed - and for which the audience naturally searches - have wholly disappeared." - Emily Ellis Fox
Zoe Crosher, from The Disappearance of Michelle duBois, 2012.




Joe Scanlan, Donelle Woolford avatar for Whitney Biennial, 2014.
Joe Scanlan, Donelle Woolford in Dick's Last Stand, 2014.

Woolford’s performance Dick’s Last Stand explores the central role given to the male sexual organ in both American art and politics, perpetuating the tradition of phallic humor in popular culture. It is a reenactment of Richard Pryor’s stand-up routine from the last episode of his short-lived 1977 television show, in which he continually played with the notion that Richard Pryor, comedian, was someone who could not be pinned down or controlled. Dick’s Last Stand honors Pryor’s brash political humor and marks its return to the live stage, with Woolford playing Pryor playing Pryor playing Mudbone, across generations and in drag! — Whitney Biennial 2014










Slavery! Slavery!

Kara Walker, Slavery! Slavery!, 1997.











Gone An Historical Romance

Kara Walker, Detail from Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War
As It Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart
, 1994.


Kara Walker in Art 21: Art in the 21st Century











Liberation of Aunt Jemima

"All black people in America want to be slaves just a little bit." - Walker
Kara Walker's work is "sort of revolting and negative and a form of betrayal to the slaves, particularly women and children; that is that it was basically for the amusement and the investment of the white art establishment." - Betye Saar
"These are the slave narratives that were never written. Kara's work takes from fact but also fantasy and throws on its head any notion we might have of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. There are no clear dichotomies." - Thelma Golden
"Walker refuses to see racism as a clear question of 'us versus them.' Instead, she performs a complex excavation of both the psychological and the sociological dimensions of identification." - David Joselit
Betye Saar, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, 1972.










You Do

Josephine Baker

Kara Walker, You Do, 1997.
Josephine Baker performing the Danse Sauvage in 1927.
Beyonce, Single Ladies, 2008.











“Needless to say, it is the two hundred year history of a shameful act conducted squarely within our consciousness that makes it possible for Walker to not only refuse shame but to blur the distinction between forms of shame. Even more important, Walker is aware that to speak of shame is simultaneously to speak of disgust, the overcoming of which is a prerequisite for sexual pleasure. Given the volume of shame, it is no wonder that the pleasures derived by her characters are often Sadistic in nature.” – Hamza Walker

installation at the Renaissance Society

Kara Walker, detail from an exhibition at the Renaissance Society, 1997.



Mark Steven Greenfield's website


Jason and Aaron White, The Dance, 2005.











Kara Walker, A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and
overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens
of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant
, 2014.


Creative Time