Studio Art 02: Archive Fever

Studio brief

This studio explores the archive the means by which historical knowledge and forms of remembrance are accumulated, stored and recovered – through the ways that it has been explored, subverted and deconstructed by artists from the early 20th century to the present.

We will begin by examining the relation between art and the archive via the trace. We will consider how our perceptions and understandings of past events and experiences are always bound up with the materiality of their imprint and the process of their inscription. We will explore the appearance of the trace and the function of the document in their multifarious forms; in photography, through sound, as performance, or film.

Archives are often covertly politicised under the guise of neutrality and we will look at how artists have deconstructed the archive that presents idealised images of our supposed collective history. We will look at the ways in which the forms of archives themselves influence what is included and what is discarded and how this might determine the ways in which art is made, presented, dispersed and collected.

The archive is disrupted by new technologies though processes of obsolescence that threaten its material stability. More radically new media technologies alter not only the way we access the past but how we experience the present. The micro-archiving of the present moment – from twitter messages, instant photos to audio-capture and the algorithms of social media – effects the very way we perceive and articulate notions of time; the traditional, logocentric notion of the present as a punctual now is irritated by such temporal disruptions.

Art’s ability to veer between documentary and fictional modes has allowed artists to work with archives in a unique way to question received ideas about history and truth. From inserting imaginary artists into existing narratives to destabilising official versions of world events, the artists we will be investigating have not merely consulted archives, but activated them in new ways. Students will be encouraged to consider their own relationship to archives and archiving and explore new methods of processing knowledge, information and historical materials.


Image: THE ATLAS GROUP, Let’s Be Honest, The Weather Helped (Iraq), 1984-2007 © Walid Raad. Photo credit: Paula Cooper Gallery

Coloured dots superimposed on building sketches


Course Fine Art BA (Hons)
Painting BA (Hons)
Photography BA (Hons)
Tutors Patrick Ward
Galia Kollectiv
Where Calcutta House
Small Annex, CA2-04
When Monday 10 am - 5 pm, Thursday 10 am - 5 pm

Fine Art


Cass Studios archive by year