From Lethargy to Vigour


In every jury, tutorial, etc, it seems that people come up to me and ask questions such as, isn’t the archive and the library the same? isn’t the archive life itself? Is the archive a collection?

People! PEOPLE! It’s NOT!

The Archive have a set of various characteristics in the way in which it works!

I am proposing the notion of the archive as a productive method of preservation. To demonstrate the way it works, I need to create this archive of the archive. Its content will be my grains, which are going to be used as examples for archiving. The grains are not artefacts but they are stories (knowledge), which are the items that we seek to archive. For  this, I need to introduce some characters which will set the methods and characteristics of the archive.


The main character is me, the archivist, the curator of the archive. The archivist calls the other characters who need to help him in the process of archiving. The first three are:

the GARDENER; he finds and removes the artefacts from its context, unrooting the weeds from the landscape.

the BUTCHER; he takes artefacts and chops them into meaningful cuts.

ANDY; Andy Warhol gets from the butcher all the items and puts them in boxes. Andy has some experience of that from his Time Capsules project.

the ARCHIVIST; he catalogues and puts labels on the boxes.

There are more characters later to come. For now, I am taking each grain through the characters.



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9 Responses to From Lethargy to Vigour

  1. Natasha Rieffel says:

    What are the meaningful parts? – I wonder if there is a drawing like this

    where one starts to dissect the things being archived? Do we really want to chop them up, or rather preserve them as whole pieces? For example, when I went to the archive and looked up policy papers for the BBC, they had everything, however it was categorised into sub-category after sub-category. So perhaps the butcher no longer has the role of separating the pieces apart, but organising them into how people would want to research into the grains? The pieces of each grain have new value to themselves. ( like your big drawing which brings us on one journey through everything)

    Also i wonder if the gardener, rather than unrooting, is looking after. Watering, feeding, preserving the archive as close to its original state….

  2. I am in love with the butcher’s figure.

    My MAIN question is still: why do we want to preserve? Do you think people want to preserve? what is the danger of not preserving? I do not think everyone care for preserving..
    and if ok, we want to preserve.. it seems that you are talking about the methodology as a work in series not in a place. So I would talk about the action of archiving and not making an archive. I think it could be useful to talk about the method and the people involved rather than using the space of the archive.

  3. Mark McGlynn says:

    “I think the point of the archive is not to preserve something, but to use the knowledge from that something, in a productive way.”

    I agree. We archive. That’s what we do.

  4. I like this, so google is an archive, my bedroom is an archive, the roads in which we walk are archives..