Pearl Diving: A People's Archive of Sinking and Melting

Boyd, Jean ORCID: 0000-0002-9343-6692 (2019) Pearl Diving: A People's Archive of Sinking and Melting. In: Memories of the Future, 29th - 30th March 2019, University of London, Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Studies. (Unpublished)

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Pearl Diving: A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting Returning to us from a speculative, or perhaps inevitable future, A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting intervenes in our present as material witness, rhetorical gesture and ethical demand. An on-going project, initiated by artist Amy Balkin in 2011, the Archive is a collection of contributed objects from global locations that may disappear under the impacts of climate change. These places’ loss of topographic integrity means the collected objects, already flotsam and ruins of no apparent value, will become the traces of no-place. Against precarity and displacement, the project asks not only what future, but whose futures are at stake. It reminds us that accumulated actions, here, by some, have unimagined effects there, on others; an uneven distribution of agency and effect. In response, the archive’s contributors act, in Arendt’s term, as pearl divers. The treasures they retrieve are traces of our present, not only fragments of the past, and haunted by future loss. But as Arendt intended, they are not simply saved from oblivion, but put to work on and in the present. The project enacts a shared commons of individual but collaborative, participatory actions. In this the People’s Archive may prefigure models of agency and response that might yet avert the need for that archive. The collected objects, sea-changed by the actions of their collector, make testimony and call on more just futures. This paper will consider the Archive as a critical, diachronic structure, an art work that allows us to imagine in the future-conditional tense.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Amy Balkin, Archive, Future, Hannah Arendt, Memory, Participatory Art
Related URLs:
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Jean Boyd
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 14:16

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