By Anthony Downey
Data are usually seen as ordered collections of old files that list information regarding humans, locations and occasions. This view however obscures a very important element: the archive, when topic to the vagaries of time and background, can also be involved in identifying the longer term. This element has received urgency in modern day North Africa and the center East the place the archive has come to the fore as a website of social, old, theoretical, and political contestation.Dissonant data is the 1st publication to think about the ways that modern artists from North Africa and the center East―including Emily Jacir, Walid Raad, Jananne Al Ani, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Mariam Ghani, Zineb Sedira, and Akram Zaatari―are using and disrupting the functionality of the archive and, in so doing, also are highlighting a systemic and maybe irrevocable concern in institutional and state-ordained archiving around the zone.
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Additional info for Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East
In its manner of writing and recording, to put it perhaps more bluntly, it presents us with the very means of its own indelible vulnerability to reinterpretation, if not its fallibility as a document. In this unstable, haunted state the archive’s susceptibility to reinscription becomes all the more evident. But, in this schema, the artist also becomes an unreliable archivist — a nodal point for distilling the essence and ambivalence of the archive into, on one hand, a form of radical uncertainty and, on the other, a call to action.
These photographs depicted various pastoral landscapes and Turkish soldiers in decorous poses with women. As Avşar notes, these sculptures were produced by two European sculptors in the 1920s — Heinrich Krippel and Pietro Canonica — and, in their Modernist style, could be seen to represent a repressed European history of art and humanities that had long fascinated Atatürk. In its manner of writing and recording, to put it perhaps more bluntly, it presents us with the very means of its own indelible vulnerability to reinterpretation, if not its fallibility as a document.
Courtesy of the author. The public narrative can be adapted by the archive’s performers to meet the moment, by sampling from different parts of the private holdings to construct the order most likely to match present interests. In every archive, there exists a literal or metaphorical dusty drawer where past archivists have filed the private holdings deemed least likely to ever be of interest to anyone anywhere: unfinished projects, failed experiments, institutional embarrassments. If you are an artist, you probably want to find that drawer and rifle through it.