The Paper Wall: Controlling the Archive
“The question of the archive is not a question of the past. It is not the question of a concept dealing with the past that might already be at our disposal. . . . It is a question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow.”
-Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression
Newspapers are ubiquitous and ephemeral. Found on the streets in kiosks, handed to you on your way down to the metro, blowing around in the gutter like useless rags: newspapers are distributed, read or not, and discarded. Everyday, new articles—international and local—attempt to capture, with words, the world in which we presently live. Countless sentences, paragraphs, quotes, bylines, headlines, and captions illustrate the stories that amass an archive of the now.
What does this archive look like? What are the values inherent to this archive? And what future will this archive be responsible for?
These questions and their direct relation to the representation of visual arts have guided Sara French’s work during her yearlong residency at Harcourt House. This exhibition manifests archives in various forms: newspapers, directories, maps and illustrations. While the works are of the now—performative and collaborative—they speak to the possibility of a future, one that will celebrate Edmonton’s artistic community, engage in the understanding of Canadian art, and embrace the potential of the artist and their ideas.