Objects vs. the Archive

8:02 AM Posted by Hollis Mickey
In "Altered Values: searching for a new collecting" found in the volume Musuems and the Future of Collecting Simon Knell states that objects are "not good" at retaining information (30). He suggests instead that libraries and archives offer more accessible resources about the past. Knell specifically questions the importance of collecting ephemera like functional objects, positing that they are significant only because of the meaning we place upon them in this moment. For this reason, collecting is always contemporary collecting.

Is it possible that objects can hold information, but simply not the kind we find in the archive? Might they give us access to a different kind of knowing?

How might our practices of collecting better negotiate the kind of knowledge that objects offer?


A series of conversations and reading groups bringing students and faculty at Brown University together with artists, researchers and professionals from a wide range of international and interdisciplinary perspectives, Archiving the Ephemeral is a valuable discursive space for researchers and practitioners concerned and critically engaged with the authoritative agency of the archive in the arts and humanities. More information [here].

Made possible by a grant from the Office of International Affairs, Brown University.


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